Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday the government would convert several newly completed public rental housing blocks into COVID-19 isolation facilities.
This comes as the city faces its worst coronavirus outbreak with more than 2,000 cases reported a day before.
Thousands of infected people are also waiting at their homes to be admitted to hospitals or other isolation facilities.
Speaking to reporters before her weekly Executive Council meeting, Lam said the government would temporarily convert blocks 1 and 7 of Queen’s Hill Estate in Fanling, and Lai King Estate’s Heng King House in Kwai Chung into isolation facilities.
In total, they will provide more than 3,000 units.
She added authorities would make “an appropriate arrangement” for those who were due to move in to these flats.
The city’s leader said she would also work with representatives from the hotel industry to get more rooms for isolation. She believes the industry will be able to provide thousands to 10,000 such rooms.
Lam added that she was also exploring with universities on whether they can temporarily convert some hostels into isolation facilities.
The chief executive also gave an update on the purchase of rapid antigen test kits.
She said the government had secured more than 100 million such test kits, but it would take time for all to be transported to Hong Kong from a mainland supplier.
As such, priority will be given to groups at high risk of infection and those supporting anti-pandemic work. These will amount to 1 million test kits a day.
Lam said authorities would start distributing the current stock to people working at homes for the elderly and the disabled from Tuesday. The public would get their kits later, she added.
Despite the onslaught of infections and overburdened public healthcare system, Lam rejected suggestions for a citywide lockdown.
“We have no plans, whatsoever, to impose a complete, wholesale lockdown of the Hong Kong city,” said Lam.
But the leader added the government was still determined to work toward its ‘dynamic zero infection’ aim”.