Getting infected with the COVID virus has become the equivalent of a crime for Hong Kong residents, who are forced to wear GPS tracking bracelets that put authorities on their trail as soon as they leave their homes.
While the rest of the world seems to have outgrown the COVID pandemic, residents of China’s major cities live in a perpetual state of alert, being called weekly for mandatory COVID checks, risking house arrest or “deportation” to one of the many quarantine camps if found infected with the Sars CoV 2 virus.
Having to manage a population increasingly fed up with anti-pandemic measures, the Chinese authorities have already tried several possible approaches: erecting metal fences around neighbourhoods: welding access doors into apartment blocks, to forcibly moving residents to quarantine centres run like maximum security prisons.
Presented as a “humane” solution, the forced application of GPS-monitored bracelets allows the infected population to be quarantined right in their homes, while ensuring that any attempt to “escape” is quickly discovered and punished.
The city’s health secretary, Lo Chung-mau, told a news conference Monday that patients will have to wear the bracelet from Friday, July 15.
Interestingly, Hong Kong authorities have been using electronic bracelets since the start of the COVID pandemic. As early as 2020, new entrants to the newly British-administered metropolis were forced to wear tracking bracelets and remain quarantined for 14 days . But these were wristbands fitted only with a QR code, which people had to use to register with an app on their phones. Some people were later given wristbands that could track their movements.
Hong Kong, like mainland China, now uses a “zero-COVID” policy, involving “housing” new arrivals in quarantine camps or hotels. But the general population is also treated in the same way, with anyone found to be infected risking many days of draconian quarantine in conditions comparable to high-security prisons.