A man jogs along the Wan Chai promenade in Admiralty, Hong Kong, May 12, 2021. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)
HONG KONG - Hong Kong will prioritize quarantine-free travel for business people when its border with the mainland reopens, said Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, warning that the city’s vaccination rate could curb a broader rollout.
“If we cannot raise our vaccination rate, it will be a hindrance to expanding our border reopening plan,” Lam said at a regular press briefing on Tuesday. Sixty-seven percent of the city’s eligible population are fully inoculated, while 71 percent has received at least one shot of the vaccine. In Singapore, 88 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to Bloomberg’s COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker.
The government would also like to have quarantine-free cross border travel quotas for members of the public not involved in business or government activities
The Hong Kong government is working to set quotas for business people in different sectors to prepare for central authorities confirming when quarantine-free travel can resume, Lam said.
“As an economic hub, we need to prioritize travel for those who need to enter the Chinese mainland for business,” she said, adding that the government would also like to have quotas for members of the public not involved in business or government activities.
Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu said last month that Hong Kong had fulfilled the basic conditions to restart cross-border travel. City officials have held at least two meetings with mainland authorities about reopening the border, and a delegation from the mainland has inspected the city’s pandemic measures.
To facilitate quarantine-free border reopening, Hong Kong is also launching a health code system on Dec 10. The system will later be connected to related systems of the mainland and Macao.
The financial hub reported five new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the tally to 12,471.
All the new cases are imported, said the Centre for Health Protection in a press release.
“Four of the cases involved mutant strains while the mutation test result of the remaining case is pending,” the CHP said.
The patients comprised three men and two women, aged 28 to 62. They arrived from the US, Sweden, Nepal, Pakistan and Spain – all listed as Group A specified (high-risk) places by the Hong Kong government.
Among them, the 62-year-old man from Spain was a close contact of an imported case confirmed previously. He tested positive at the Penny's Bay Quarantine Centre. The remaining four patients tested positive during the "test-and-hold" arrangement upon arrival at Hong Kong International Airport.
A total of 62 cases have been reported in the past 14 days and all of them were imported, the CHP added.
According to the Hospital Authority, a total of 65 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized in the North Lantau Hospital Hong Kong Infection Control Centre and the Hospital Authority Infectious Disease Centre, including one in serious condition.
With inputs from Agencies
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