Hongkongers hoping to travel to mainland China when the border reopens should sign up for a Covid-19 booster shot sooner rather than later, a leading health expert has advised ahead of this week’s launch of third doses in the city.
Dr Joseph Tsang Kay-yan, co-chair of the Medical Association’s advisory committee on communicable diseases, suggested the booster shots could be made a prerequisite for travel under any agreement between mainland and Hong Kong authorities on reopening the border.
“Whether travellers would be required to have received a third jab, I think this could be one of the considerations [in negotiations]… If you want to visit the mainland right after the border reopening, then you should really consider getting vaccinated with a third dose soon,” Tsang told a radio programme.
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Tsang encouraged travelling Hongkongers to move quickly with booking their third doses as the city on Monday confirmed no new Covid-19 cases for the first time in nearly a month.
He stressed that opting for a third dose was a matter of personal choice, with an individual’s level of need or concern among the considerations.
About 39,900 bookings for booster doses have been made since registration opened on Friday, with high-risk groups such as the elderly the first to receive the shots from Thursday.
Hong Kong and mainland officials have been negotiating the reopening of the border as the city seeks to align itself with the latter’s stringent zero-Covid approach.
But there has been no breakthrough even as Hong Kong continues to keep a lid on the number of coronavirus infections and related deaths.
Most new Hong Kong cases are imported and the last local infection was confirmed on October 8, involving an airport cargo handler who was carrying the L452R mutation. Only a handful of key workers will still be allowed entry without undergoing mandatory isolation.
The absence of any new Covid-19 cases on Monday maintains Hong Kong’s overall infection tally at 12,368 cases with 213 related deaths. The last time the city did not record a single coronavirus case, either local or imported, was on October 10.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has repeatedly made clear that the city will prioritise reopening its borders with the mainland instead of resuming international travel.
Quarantine-free travel between the city and the mainland will initially be limited to Guangdong province, according to Lam.
She said the border reopening must be implemented in an orderly and gradual manner, stressing the need for a quota system with travel priority given to business exchanges and those visiting the elderly or attending funerals.
It would be difficult to make cross-border students a priority group given their sheer number, Lam was quoted as saying by a local newspaper on Monday.
The system is expected to require travellers to have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, submit to nucleic acid testing, upload their records from the “Leave Home Safe” contact-tracing app and apply to the mainland’s health code on arrival. A mainland-registered mobile phone number may also be required to enable the authorities to track their movements and for contact purposes.
Category: Hong Kong