Hong Kong has determined to carry its inbound journey ban on 9 international locations and halve its resort quarantine interval to seven days from April 1 after the variety of native Covid-19 infections began falling.
The authorities introduced on Monday it might drop its plans for citywide mass testing because it was too troublesome to implement due to Hong Kong’s excessive inhabitants density.
It stated if the variety of Covid instances didn’t rebound considerably, Hong Kong’s social-distancing measures could be relaxed ranging from April in three phases over three months.
Since the fifth-epidemic wave broke out in December final yr, Hong Kong recorded a complete of 1.05 million Covid infections and 5,906 deaths. Most of the deaths have been reported between mid-February and mid-March as 95% of the town’s aged care houses had virus outbreaks and solely a small portion of aged folks had obtained Covid vaccines.
When Hong Kong reported about 100 native infections per day in early February, the federal government introduced an extra tightening of its social-distancing guidelines, however was then criticized by Chinese lecturers for leaning towards the West’s “living with the virus” technique.
In mid-February, Beijing ordered Hong Kong to make epidemic management its prime precedence.
As Hong Kong didn’t have a transparent dwelling quarantine coverage, a number of these with delicate infections flocked to public hospitals, leading to a breakdown of the town’s medical system.
In late February, physique luggage have been seen piled up at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Last week, the Funeral Business Association warned Hong Kong would run out of coffins inside days.
A internet outflow of 140,000 folks, or 2% of the inhabitants, has been recorded in Hong Kong up to now this yr.
On Monday, the federal government stated vaccinated Hong Kong residents could be allowed to fly on to the particular administrative area from 9 international locations, together with the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, from April 1. The flight ban had been imposed since early January.
Arrivals from all international locations and areas will nonetheless must current unfavourable PCR take a look at outcomes earlier than departure, however shall be required to solely undergo a seven-day quarantine in accommodations upon arrival, throughout which they are going to be examined every single day. At current, all incoming vacationers must be quarantined at designated accommodations for 14 days.
Social-distancing guidelines shall be relaxed from April 21 in three phases over three months, supplied an infection numbers don’t rebound. In the second section, bars, pubs and seashores shall be allowed to reopen and folks shall be allowed to train outdoor with out sporting a masks.
In the final section, most measures shall be relaxed, however folks will nonetheless want to make use of the vaccine go and the LeaveHomeSafe app.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam stated the federal government was suspending plans to conduct common mass testing in Hong Kong because it didn’t have 80,000 medical employees to implement the scheme.
On Monday, Hong Kong reported a slight drop in new coronavirus instances to 14,068. It was the fifth day in a row the every day caseload has fallen, and the third straight day it was beneath 20,000.
The outbreak might have already peaked as many individuals have been vaccinated, whereas social-distancing measures confirmed their impact, stated Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Communicable Disease Branch of the Centre for Health Protection.
In reality, the Omicron outbreak was stabilizing as many residents had already been contaminated, Chuang stated.
More than 80% of the 205 Covid sufferers who died on Saturday have been both unvaccinated or had just one jab, Chuang added.
Yuen Kwok-yung, a microbiologist and a authorities adviser for the pandemic, stated Hong Kong reported the world’s highest loss of life fee because it had missed the golden interval prior to now 9 months to spice up vaccination charges among the many aged.
Yuen stated Hong Kong lacked the flexibility to hint virus transmission chains and deal with all Covid sufferers because the Omicron variant was extremely infectious.
Meanwhile, about 400 mainland medics began working on the group therapy middle for Covid sufferers at AsiaWorld-Expo. Last week, the Hospital Authority (HA) instructed reporters it might take the “ultimate responsibility” if any of the newly-arrived Chinese medical doctors and nurses have been the reason for any medical mishaps.
Tony Ling, the president of the Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association, raised considerations on March 15 that Hong Kong’s contaminated wouldn’t be capable to file complaints in opposition to mainland medics, who usually are not regionally registered, if medical accidents occurred.
A Now TV reporter requested HA officers about this, however was criticized by pro-Beijing newspapers for inciting hatred in opposition to mainland medics and allegedly violating the National Security Law.
On March 17, Chan Tit-piu, the top of stories at NowTV, issued a press release apologizing for the reporter’s query and praising the central authorities and mainland medics for his or her “selfless support.”
According to a leaked voice recording suspected to be from a Now News assembly, Chan stated reporters mustn’t ask questions on mainland medics’ tasks, however solely contributions. He stated reporters ought to have their questions pre-approved by supervisors earlier than they may elevate them in media briefings sooner or later.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association stated the Now TV reporter had requested the query with the general public curiosity in thoughts.
On Sunday, Chief Secretary John Lee wrote in his weblog that individuals want to pay attention to what he referred to as “irresponsible speculation” on social media about mainland well being employees who got here to Hong Kong to assist maintain Covid sufferers.
He confused the Hong Kong and mainland medical groups have been collaborating nicely and supporting one another.
Follow Jeff Pao on Twitter at @jeffpao3