Hong Kong health authorities say they may break into flats if residents within coronavirus lockdown zones don’t answer the door, as they step up their battle to curb Covid-19 infections.

The government has mounted near-daily overnight lockdowns on individual apartment buildings or groups of buildings, preventing residents from leaving and requiring them to take a test for the virus. But in a statement on Tuesday it said a number of residents had failed to answer the door.

Yuen Long lockdown. Photo: Michael Ho and Kenny Huang/Studio Incendo.

The government said it “may take legal action including removing individuals or applying to a magistrate for a warrant to break into and forcefully enter a unit,” if necessary.

Officials would also ask bailiffs to seal off flats if necessary, and the citizen involved would have to pay the costs.

The announcement came after four “ambush” coronavirus lockdowns imposed on Monday night, where zero infections were found after over 1,700 citizens were tested in four areas.

Yuen Long lockdown. Photo: Michael Ho and Kenny Huang/Studio Incendo.

Apart from Tsim Sha Tsui and Yuen Long, the government also imposed lockdowns in Loong King Mansion, Kowloon City at 8pm, and parts of Reclamation Street, Public Square Street and Wing Sing Lane in Yau Ma Tei at 8.30pm on Monday. All tests were completed by 7am on Tuesday.

Yau Ma Tei lockdown. Photo: Michael Ho and Kenny Huang/Studio Incendo.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday defended the use of “ambush” lockdowns and said finding zero transmission was “the best ever public health achievement.”

Yau Ma Tei lockdown. Photo: Michael Ho and Kenny Huang/Studio Incendo.

“We want to achieve zero cases for the whole community, it’s not just one building or one district. So we will continue to do this type of compulsory testing in order to identify any remaining silent transmission cases in the community,” she told a press conference.

Carrie Lam at a press conference on February 2, 2021. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan told a RTHK radio show it was “reassuring” that no coronavirus cases had been found during some of the lockdowns.

Chan said the government’s current actions were designed to stay ahead of the pandemic and proactively deal with the situation before an outbreak happens.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.