Residents fret despite lifting of Omicron lockdown

An unprecedented seven-day lockdown of a residential building at the centre of Hong Kong’s worst Omicron outbreak was lifted on Friday morning, with some residents still fretting over the lingering effects of the protracted quarantine operation.

“I can’t go to work. They won’t let me!” complained a construction worker who was allowed to leave Yat Kwai House of Kwai Chung Estate in the morning after registering his personal information with the authorities.

“Let’s see if the government can offer some subsidies,” he told reporters, adding that he has no idea how long he’ll have to stay away from work.

Another man surnamed Fung, who said he is a freelancer, said the operation cost him a quarter of his monthly income, and he is worried that his employers won’t want him back even now.

“Even my friends say let’s not get together during the Lunar New Year holiday. What will my employers think? Will they still hire me for freelance jobs? I’m worried.”

Authorities had uncovered 139 confirmed Covid-19 cases after conducting more than 14,000 tests over the seven-day period.

The original five-day lockdown had been extended for two more days, but authorities decided to lift the restrictions following a drop in the number of new cases.

Still, some residents were not happy at being subjected to the long quarantine, while also complaining about the hygiene conditions in the building.

“Mrs [Carrie] Lam said the building would be thoroughly cleansed and disinfected, but I saw rubbish such as cigarette ends and tissues on the staircases of some lower floors,” one man complained.

A woman surnamed Ko said she won’t let her guard down.

“I’ll go out less often, because I’m still worried. I don’t want to be quarantined again. It’s really horrible.”

She also took issue with the testing arrangements that were put in place, saying the lifts were packed every time she went downstairs for mandatory tests.

But she said she’s happy the lockdown is over. “I thought we’d be trapped during Chinese New Year,” she said.

Resident were also given Lunar New Year goodie-bags containing festive treats such as dried mushrooms, abalone and Chinese sausages.