Editorial:Lockdown for testing has its value

【明報專訊】The government's first neighbourhood lockdown measure for mandatory testing has drawn to an end. It has met with mixed responses from different sides. While some say it troubled people, wasted resources and was of poor cost effectiveness, there are also experts who maintain that locking down a district for compulsory testing is necessary and worthy. As residents and businesses inside the cordoned-off zone were affected seriously, grumbles and complaints were unavoidable. It was also inevitable that there was room for improvement as the government tried its hand at a new action. Overall, the government's handling of the lockdown can be considered as passing — the mandatory testing was completed within two days without much chaos. As to whether the effectiveness was high or low, it is not appropriate to consider the question simply by referring to the single figure of the test positivity rate. One should also bear in mind that ''an apple cannot be directly compared to an orange.'' In the battle against the pandemic, measures should be taken in line with the actual circumstances of the matter. All depends on the development of the outbreak and the battleground environment on the spot. There is not a panacea that works in all situations or a necessity to rule out any options flatly. Locking down a neighbourhood for mandatory testing is a valuable option that should not be seen through politically-coloured glasses. The authorities should take their lessons from the lockdown and formulate a set of reasonable and objective criteria for future reference regarding when to conduct compulsory testing and when to impose a lockdown.