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Hong Kong drafts law to make covid tests mandatory for some

The move follows a voluntary city-wide summer testing program that unearthed only a handful of positive cases.

By: Bloomberg | October 27, 2020 9:44:07 am
Healthcare workers collect a swab sample at a testing center for the government's Universal Community Testing Programme in Hong Kong on Sept. 1.

Hong Kong is drafting a law that would enable the city to make Covid-19 tests mandatory for people with symptoms and other specific groups, the city’s leader said.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the plan to enact a new law mandating tests for known clusters and high risk groups at a weekly briefing Tuesday, without elaborating. The government said earlier this month that it was studying the legal framework for mandatory coronavirus testing.

The move follows a voluntary city-wide summer testing program that unearthed only a handful of positive cases. The program was bedeviled by public skepticism and suspicion that the Beijing-backed drive was a move to harvest residents’ DNA. The government denied those claims.

“We hope every citizen can voluntarily do testing to make society not affected by the epidemic,” Lam said. “But Hong Kong is a very free society and the volunteers may not appear. For the purpose of public health, we really need some specific people to get tested.”

Lam also said she would discuss economic policies in Beijing next week, and will meet with officials from Guangzhou and Shenzhen about the Greater Bay Area after her trip to the capital. President Xi Jinping visited the border city of Shenzhen earlier this month and urged young people from Hong Kong to move to China, part of an effort to more closely integrate the financial hub — which saw historic anti-government protests last year — with the mainland.

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