Coronavirus: Should Hong Kong open to the world or mainland China first? Pandemic adviser says this hinges on next administration priorities

“Last September, the mainland did not experience Omicron waves, but now many provinces and cities have dealt with such cases,” pointed out Hui, referring to efforts drawn up last year in border reopening. He said officials from both sides needed to discuss whether Beijing would “change its position”.

Recalling previous rounds of negotiations, Hui said the mainland authorities had expressed concern about potential infections in Hong Kong’s isolation hotels, and they also said that discharge standards for patients Covid-19 patients in local hospitals are too lax.

Government pandemic advisor David Hui.  Photo: Winson Wong

Government pandemic advisor David Hui. Photo: Winson Wong

Hui urges Lee’s government to strike a balance between allowing locals with families and businesses in mainland China to cross the border comfortably and facilitating city travel for residents. Foreign investment.

He said that if the mainland remained to follow its “no momentum” policy, authorities could consider a “closed-loop” mechanism to resume cross-border quarantine-free travel for groups. Nominated.

As of May 1, international visitors can fly into the city but are subject to a seven-day hotel quarantine. They also need to undergo multiple virus tests during and after quarantine.

Health officials on Friday reported 672 new coronavirus infections, the second day in a row with a caseload above 600. There were 59 imported cases in the tally.

Hui said on Saturday the increase in the number of pomelos was not surprising as social distancing rules were relaxed.

“[Restaurants] With longer working hours and bars reopening, the recent increase in the number of cases is to be expected,” he said, adding that the return of overseas residents also brought more cases to Hong Kong.

He urged people not to worry too much, because the number of deaths from coronavirus and related severe cases is much less, as well as the immune barrier because half of the population has been infected in the fifth wave.

Citing recent research, Hui said vaccination is still effective in preventing serious cases and deaths caused by the sub-Omicron bacteria.

However, he warned that this is not the right time to ease social distancing curbs and arrange for quarantine of arrivals, with the city set to hold a series of celebrations to mark the 25th. five days back to Chinese rule.

The incumbent leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who is stepping down in three weeks, on Thursday ruled out a full reopening of the border with the mainland anytime soon, stressing that the city was caught in the middle of how to proceed. strict national approach to eliminating Covid-19 and the rest of the world has a more flexible living attitude towards the virus.

Incoming CEO Lee emphasized during his election campaign that quarantine-free travel to the mainland would be his top priority if elected. But last week, he acknowledged that achieving that goal would not be easy and that he will be in contact with mainland officials after taking office on July 1 to determine the exact conditions that need to be met.

Lee remains ambivalent about whether he plans to relax quarantine rules for international travelers. He said during his election campaign that he knew access to Hong Kong was crucial for both business growth and competitiveness.

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