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Hong Kong plans mandatory COVID-19 testing for every resident as cases climb

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has announced that the city is "planning very seriously" to implement mandatory COVID-19 testing for its nearly 7.5 million residents in an attempt to combat a rise in cases.  

Lam noted, however, that universal testing does not mean there will be a complete city lockdown.

"In our case, having examined the unique situation in Hong Kong, we probably will just go for universal testing of everyone, but testing more times," Lam said, while citing neighboring Macao's use of repeated universal testing for its 600,000 people. 

Lam also announced the upcoming Chief Executive election will be postponed from March 27 to May 8 in order to give the government time to fight rising case levels. 

"This decision was made on the back of the current situation, a situation that we have not seen in the past two years," Lam said. "The situation is aggravating and quite critical, and in order to protect the health of Hong Kong's people, the government should focus all resources to fight the epidemic. We cannot afford to be distracted, and we cannot afford to make mistakes." 

WATCH LIVE: HK leader Carrie Lam on local Omicron outbreak by South China Morning Post on YouTube

The decision comes at a time of crisis for the city. Health officials said this week that hospitals were at 90% capacity, and daily new cases topped 2,000 for the first time this week, The Associated Press reported. The city reported 6,116 new cases on Thursday, the AP said. 

The decision falls in line with Beijing's "zero-COVID" policy, which has included quarantining travelers, implementing total lockdowns, and comprehensive testing, according to The Associated Press. 

"I appeal to the people of Hong Kong to remain optimistic and confident that we will be able to overcome this public health crisis," Lam said. 

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