Fears of a city-wide lockdown prompted residents to rush to supermarkets on Monday. Online rumors had been circulating that ParkNShop, one of the city’s two main grocery chains, would close its stores from March 7.
On Tuesday, long lines formed at a supermarket in Fortress Hill and a food shortage in Kowloon Tong. ParkNShop later dismissed the rumors and assured that its stores will still operate as usual.
Supermarket Shelves Emptied Amid Lockdown Rumors in HK
Hong Kong’s Health Secretary said on Monday that officials are still considering asking people to stay home during a major exercise next month, the RTHK reported.
Despite this, due to uncertainties over COVID rules, many people in the city have also started to stock up on essential supplies.
Many of the photos posted on social media showed people running out of various items, such as food, medicine, and testing kits.
The coronavirus outbreak in the city has caused thousands of new cases each day. It has also destabilized the Zero-COVID strategy of the government.
The statement said: “You don’t need to worry about food and other necessities, Hong Kong has sufficient goods and material reserve,” John Lee, the city’s second-highest official, said that the new isolation facility would be used for mild infections.
Authorities will also test the 7.4 million residents in the country this month to see if they have the potentially deadly illness.
They will also isolate the infected individuals in camps being constructed with the help of China.
City leader Carrie Lam initially ruled out a plan to impose a quarantine on the people. This proposal was considered as an alternative to a mainland-style lockdown.
After floating the government’s plan, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Monday that it was still on the table.
On Tuesday, multiple media outlets in Hong Kong reported that the authorities were planning on implementing various lockdown measures during the test period.
According to the South China Morning Post, the authorities are planning on implementing a nine-day lockdown that would restrict the movement of people in the city.
Due to the large number of people living in the densely populated city, the shelves of supermarkets were not big enough to accommodate the influx of customers during the height of the pandemic two years ago.
City apartments are also among the smallest in the world. This has left little space to stock supplies.
Most of the food in Hong Kong is imported from China. The situation worsened after cross-border truckers were infected with the Omicron variant.
Since the pandemic began, over 190,000 infections have been reported in Hong Kong. This figure is slightly higher compared to the 12,000 infections recorded during the entire pandemic.