Hong Kong’s coronavirus testing drive tests negative for popularity
But there were few takers.
By 4 p.m. on Tuesday, eight hours after the program began, 82,000 people had come forward — slightly over 1 percent of the population and far below the daily average required to reach the government’s target of 5 million. Most testing centers were quiet; health workers in protective gear and face shields sat around idle.
Although it was just the first day of the campaign, the outcome highlighted the yawning trust deficit between Hong Kong leaders and residents, rather than showcasing common purpose after a year of political upheaval.
Against the backdrop of Beijing’s tightening grip on the territory and a sharp fall in local infections, some residents came to regard the free testing program as a government effort to collect their DNA, a charge the government denies. “We will dispel worries, we will explain the rationale,” Patrick Nip, Hong Kong’s civil service chief, said Tuesday.