A woman wearing PPE promotes COVID-19 testing kits in the Mong Kok area of Hong Kong on March 19, 2022. (PETER PARKS / AFP)
HONG KONG - Hong Kong reported 14,149 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday as the government announced that residents need to get their third vaccine shot by the end of May if they use the city's Vaccine Pass.
Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch of the Centre for Health Protection, said in a news briefing that the new cases comprised 4 imported infections and 14,145 local cases.
Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch of the Centre for Health Protection, said in a news briefing that the new cases comprised 4 imported infections and 14,145 local cases
She said 5,872 were confirmed through nucleic acid tests and 8,273 by rapid antigen tests.
While Sunday’s figure was lower than the 16,597 cases reported on Saturday, Chuang warned that cases could still rebound if more and more residents go out and resume their social activities.
“If the social activities become more frequent, there is going to be a likelihood that there would be a resurgence,” Chuang said.
“There are still many cases that have not been picked up. For the time being, we don’t know how the situation is going to pan out,” she added.
Chuang said the four imported cases involved three travelers from Thailand and one person who arrived from Singapore.
She added that there were 246 new deaths, including 205 on Saturday and 41 from March 10 to 18 that were not reported earlier.
Lau Ka-hin, chief manager (quality and standards) of the Hospital Authority, said in the same briefing that the 205 deaths on Saturday comprised 126 men and 79 women aged 44 to 104 years old.
He added hat mainland medical workers have started attending to COVID-19 patients staying in halls 8 to 11 at the AsiaWorld-Expo isolation treatment facility.
Meanwhile, the government said in a statement that the implementation of stage three of the Vaccine Pass program will be advanced to May 31 instead of the original June 30.
“By that time, all applicable individuals in general (except certain special groups) under Vaccine Pass will need to have received the third dose,” the statement reads.
The government said it made the decision after it saw the public’s enthusiasm to get vaccinated and since the city had sufficient vaccine doses and the capacity to get all eligible residents jabbed before the deadline.
It said the grace period for persons aged 12 or above to receive their third dose after the second shot will be shortened from the original nine months to six months starting May 31.
There is no need for another shot for persons aged 12 or above who have recovered from COVID-19 and received their second or the third dose before infection, or are within six months after their recovery.
Those who recovered and did not receive any vaccine before infection need to have their first shot in order to use Vaccine Pass.
Starting April 30, those who recovered can still use Vaccine Pass after recovery and within six months after receiving the first vaccine dose.
If more than six months have passed, they would need to receive the second dose to continue using Vaccine Pass. The second dose vaccination requirement is not applicable to recovered persons aged 12 to 17 who received the Comirnaty vaccine as the first dose.
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