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Hong Kong offers free universal COVID-19 testing for citizens with Chinese help


Hong Kong’s chief on Friday mentioned China would assist authorities to provide free coronavirus checks to residents as infections proceed to rise in a finance hub the place a deep mistrust of Beijing has change into embedded.

Initially, a poster little one for the battle in opposition to the coronavirus, Hong Kong has seen a 3rd wave introduced in by sure enterprise and logistic arrivals that had been exempted from the obligatory quarantine guidelines.

Greater than 2,500 new infections have been detected because the beginning of July — almost 70 percent of the full because the virus first hit the town in late January, and deaths have risen to 46.

Metropolis chief Carrie Lam mentioned the federal government would introduce a free voluntary testing scheme in two weeks’ time with an assist from medical officers from the Chinese language mainland.

“We wish to do it as quickly as potential inside a brief length, as a result of the sooner than we might establish these silent transmitters, the higher,” Lam mentioned.

The testing shall be carried out by Hong Kong subsidiaries of three mainland firms together with Chinese language genomics agency BGI Group, she added.

In different places all over the world, residents would probably welcome a sudden enhance in virus testing.

However many Hong Kongers stay deeply suspicious of Beijing because it stamps down on political freedoms, together with imposing sweeping new safety legislation on town final month.

Biometric surveillance, together with DNA, kinds a core part of the authoritarian mainland’s huge surveillance state.

Hong Kong opposition figures have expressed fears virus testing by mainland officers might assist Beijing harvest the DNA of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million inhabitants.

The Hong Kong authorities have dismissed these options as unfounded rumors.

Throughout Friday’s announcement Lam mentioned testing laboratories wouldn’t be given any private data and wouldn’t be capable to accumulate DNA samples.

“If folks nonetheless have issues, they needn’t come ahead,” she mentioned.

“That is a completely voluntary program to supply testing for many who wish to have a take a look at.”

She added that “conspiracy theories” had been “damaging the connection between the central authorities and Hong Kong”.

The Nationwide Well being Fee of China has despatched an “advance unit” of medical laboratory workers within the metropolis on Sunday.

Lam mentioned one other crew has been set as much as help in constructing Hong Kong a makeshift hospital comparable tho these erected when the virus first emerged within the central Chinese language metropolis of Wuhan.

Authorities lately opened a 500-bed non-permanent facility to deal with non-serious infections in an exhibition middle close to the airport and predict to spice up its capability by including 1,400 beds.

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