Lockdown fears spark panic buying in Hong Kong

People in Hong Kong stripped supermarket shelves bare Tuesday as panic buying set in following mixed messaging from the government over whether it plans a lockdown this month.

Uncertainty over Covid rules has sent the city’s residents flocking to supermarkets, chemists, and vegetable stores to stock up, leaving shelves empty across the city.

Photos circulating on social media showed people had troubled finding a variety of items including meat, vegetables, frozen foods, noodles, paracetamol and testing kits.

The financial hub is currently in the grips of its worst coronavirus outbreak, registering tens of thousands of new cases each day, overwhelming hospitals, and shattering the city’s zero-Covid strategy.

Authorities plan to test all 7.4 million residents this month and isolate all infections either at home or in a series of camps that are still being constructed with the help of mainland China.

City leader Carrie Lam had initially ruled out a mainland-style lockdown where people are confined to their homes during the testing period.

But on Monday, health chief Sophia Chan confirmed it was still on the table, a day after a senior Chinese health official described it as the best option.

On Tuesday multiple pro-government Hong Kong media citing official sources also said authorities were looking at a variety of lockdown options for the test period.

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