Hong Kong has again flagged a likely delay in implementing a so-called “health code” declaration system to indicate a person has no symptoms of Covid-19, a precondition for easing travel between that city and its neighbours Macau and the mainland China province of Guangdong. The latter two places already each have a declaration system.
Hong Kong needs to “review” the timing on its contribution to the system, said the city’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in a posting on the social media site Facebook, on Thursday. She noted in her message the fact there had been new, community-based, cases of Covid-19 infection in Hong Kong during the past few days.
“…We need to review when the ‘health code’ pilot programme for Guangdong-Hong Kong and Hong Kong-Macau,” – which she described as “close to ready,” – should be “implemented,” Ms Lam wrote.
Some Hong Kong media outlets have previously reported there has been a political row in the city regarding to what extent mainland China authorities should be given access to personal data of Hong Kong citizens, gathered via the health declaration scheme.
In common with “several other places that have gradually resumed economic and social activities,” Hong Kong had seen “rapid changes in the [Covid-19] pandemic situation throughout the past few days, as over 60 new infection cases were confirmed locally,” Ms Lam wrote in her posting, seemingly referring to some foreign countries.
On Friday, Ao Ieong U, Macau’s Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, told the Macau media she understood the need for Hong Kong’s “pause”, given the new infections there.
Ms Ao Ieong added the Macau government would determine the “right time” to implement further measures to ease travel. Macau currently has a limited 3,000-per-day quota enabling eligible Macau residents to travel quarantine-free to nine places in Guangdong, including Macau’s immediate neighbour, the city of Zhuhai. The scheme is limited to either business travel, official business, or people with special travel needs.
On Thursday alone, Hong Kong reported 42 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection. A majority of them was described as “epidemiologically linked” with a local case, according to the city’s government. In the seven-day period from July 3 to July 9 inclusive, Hong Kong reported a daily average of 17.6 new infection cases, a jump from a daily average at 7.0 new cases in the previous seven-day period.
Ms Lam said Hong Kong would strive to stem any possible virus transmission risk relating to people arriving in the city. She also said Hong Kong would strengthen its testing capacity for Covid-19, and was attempting to track what were previously “hidden infection links” in local communities; as well as enhancing so-called social distancing measures in the city’s commercial buildings.
The Hong Kong government had previously extended to August 7, a deadline for the end of a 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals from Macau, mainland China and Taiwan.
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