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Hong Kong turns to 'ambush lockdowns' to fight COVID-19

HONG KONG: Hong Kong has begun using "ambush lockdowns" to suddenly close off and test everyone inside neighbourhoods where COVID-19 cases have spiked, as a spate of recent outbreaks lays bare the rampant inequality in the wealthy Chinese finance hub.

Police cordoned off a row of densely packed tenement buildings in the Yau Ma Tei area overnight on Tuesday (Jan 26) through to Wednesday morning to conduct mandatory tests.

The new tactic involves authorities giving no warning of an impending lockdown.

City leader Carrie Lam said such "ambush style" lockdowns were needed to ensure people did not flee before testers move in.

"I thank residents in the restricted area for their cooperation," she wrote on her Facebook page on Wednesday as the lockdown was lifted.

A similar two-day lockdown in a neighbourhood over the weekend was leaked to the media a day before police moved in.

Tuesday night's operation was small.

Some 330 tests were conducted in 20 buildings, with one COVID-19 case found.

But authorities say further ambush lockdowns may be necessary in the days ahead.

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