Starting this Friday, Hong Kong residents infected with Covid who are quarantined at home will have to wear an electronic tracking bracelet, the health authorities have announced.
The purpose of the measure is to make sure these citizens don’t leave their homes. The announcement was made by Hong Kong’s Health Secretary Lo Chung-mau, and the measure will come into effect on July 15.
This is part of a controversial policy known as “Zero-Covid”, that has been pursued by both Hong Kong and mainland China since the outbreak of the virus (but also some other countries, notably Australia, until last year).
Zero-COVID’s premise is to track down every single infection and thus achieve control and maximum suppression. In doing so, the authorities deploy a variety of tracing and tracking technology, border closures, and quarantine, as well as strict lockdowns.
Despite the fact that this Covid policy has been in place for over two years now, Hong Kong experienced a spike in new coronavirus cases recently, putting the number at 2,000 each day of the past week, which prompted the new measure.
The policy – the opposite of which is “living with the virus” has come under criticism as ultimately failing to deliver on its goal, and being harmful to the economy and people’s health outside of coronavirus concerns.
But Lo is a staunch proponent of “Zero-Covid” who was in the past quoted as saying that “living with the virus will get us all killed.”
And so both the mainland and Hong Kong continue to adhere to “Zero-Covid” with the now (re)introduced Covid bracelets representing a part of the strategy. Reports note that it is not known at this time what these bracelets will consist of, or how exactly they will function.
In 2020, people arriving in Hong Kong wore tracking wristbands and were quarantined for two weeks. The wristbands contained a QR code and were paired with a phone app, and were designed to track people’s movements.
Some Hong Kong residents who test positive are directed to quarantine in special facilities, while others are allowed to do this at home.