Hong Kong on Saturday ordered a populated area to be locked down, the first time such a measure has been taken in the pandemic-hit territory, following a surge in coronavirus cases in recent days.
About 10,000 residents in a 16-block area in Kowloon's Jordan district are required to undergo coronavirus tests and stay at home until most of the people in the area have been tested and results determined, Food and Health Secretary Sophia Chan said.
Some 3,000 government workers from various departments including police and fire services are deployed for the lockdown, where barriers are erected on streets blocking residents from leaving.
"We aim at finishing the operation within 48 hours, likely by early Monday," Chan told reporters. "Residents in the restricted area may leave afterwards."
Residents who have left the area before the lockdown was in place are also required to be tested by midnight or subject to penalties of fine and imprisonment.
Nearly half of the dozens of daily cases in the past week have come from the restricted area and the lockdown is aimed at cutting the chain of infection, the official said.
Government leader Carrie Lam said the impact of the lockdown should be minimal and urged the people affected to fully cooperate.
"Once the compulsory testing is being completed, then the order will be lifted and people will be allowed to go out," Lam told reporters after inspecting the restricted zone.
The total tally reached 10,009 cases on Saturday, with 168 deaths.