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Wary Hong Kongers shun China-backed mass virus testing

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Wary Hong Kongers shun China-backed mass virus testing

HONG KONG: Hong Kong ‘s plan to test every resident for the coronavirus is being hobbled by limited take-up as a wary public steer clear of the China-backed health scheme.
The free voluntary tests are part of an attempt to stamp out a third wave of infections that began in late June and saw the densely populated city reimpose economically painful social distancing measures.
But the involvement of mainland Chinese testing firms has deterred many in a politically divided city convulsing with resentment towards Beijing’s rule.
On Monday morning, civil service chief Patrick Nip said 1.15 million people had signed up since mass testing began last Tuesday out of a city population of some 7.5 million. That figure is well below the 4-5 million leading health experts said would be needed for a mass testing scheme to be effective at finding and stopping hidden transmission chains.
Nip said the tests would be extended for a further seven days to encourage more people to sign up.
"Please take the opportunity to help Hong Kong end the epidemic’s third wave so that people’s lives and economic activities can gradually return," he wrote on Facebook .
The tepid enthusiasm is a blow for the city’s pro-Beijing leadership, which suffers from low approval ratings.
They had called on residents to embrace the scheme, billing it as a benevolent public health initiative made possible with Chinese help.
But the involvement of teams and labs from the mainland has sent the rumour mills into overdrive and compounded fears of Beijing’s surveillance state, which uses biometric data to […]

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