Hong Kong is considering shorter COVID quarantine for travelers

REUTERS

HONG KONG – Hong Kong will look to shorten COVID-19 quarantine requirements for travelers while still aiming to slow the spread of the virus and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed, new city leader John Lee said on Tuesday.

Mr. Lee spoke at his first weekly press conference as the city’s CEO after being sworn in Friday by Chinese President Xi Jinping after celebrations marking 25 years since the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule.

China alone is among the major countries in pursuing a “zero COVID” strategy aimed at eradicating all outbreaks at almost any cost.

“I am aware of the need for Hong Kong to remain open and convenient for travelers, but it is also important that we address the risks at the same time,” he said. Lee to journalists.

He added that he had instructed Health Minister Lo Chung-mau to investigate a shortening of mandatory quarantine for travelers, but he did not provide further details.

“I’ll give him time to look at the statistics so he will formulate some options that we can consider,” said Mr. Lee.

Hong Kong, which has some of the strictest travel restrictions in the world outside mainland China, has reported daily case numbers of around 2,000 infections in the past week without tight rules. Such figures would lead to very strict restrictions on daily activities in any city on the mainland.

The city still imposes a seven-day hotel quarantine on arrival, at the traveler’s own expense, and requires a series of forms and strict test requirements from passengers boarding flights to Hong Kong.

Airlines risk being suspended if they bring in too many passengers who test positive after landing, leading to canceled flights and people struggling to rebook travel and hotels and ending up stranded, in some cases for several months, outside the city.

Lo said on Monday that he hoped the border with Shenzhen would reopen by August 4.

The Asian financial hub, which faced a major wave of COVID infections this year, has officially reported more than 1 million cases and more than 9,000 deaths – one of the highest mortality rates in the world since the start of the pandemic.

Some epidemiologists estimate that more than 4 million people in the city with 7.4 million may have been infected. Health authorities have said the city’s hospitals are not under any significant pressure as COVID cases rise again. – Reuters

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