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Hong Kong rolls out free universal coronavirus testing programme

Published on 01/09/20 at 12:23pm
Photo by Andrii Makukha

Hong Kong has begun a free universal COVID-19 testing programme to help combat the coronavirus. 

This mass testing system will be voluntary and utilise medical staff from mainland China, which has sparked fears the programme could be used for mass surveillance. 

A health union has criticised the programme as wasteful. The 20,000-member Hospital Authority Employees Alliance said more effort should be put into focused tests rather than mass testing. The leader of the union, Winnie Yu, has called on the Hong Kong populace to boycott the mass testing, as she alleged it is being carried out just to please Beijing.

The mass surveillance fears come from activists who believe that the DNA samples from the test will be harvested along with a citizen’s personal data to help China expand their surveillance programme from the mainland to the largely self-governing region.

Joshua Wong, a prominent pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong, urged people to avoid the tests, tweeting: “Given the unreliability of the test and high potential of DNA abuse for surveillance, #Hongkongers will boycott the proposed universal testing. We urge #HKgov to halt the plan and take other effective measures, such as full border seal, to curb the virus.”

Hong Kong has so far dealt with the coronavirus in an effective manner, having recorded only 5,000 cases of COVID-19 in a population of 7.5 million. 

Conor Kavanagh

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