Hong Kong is set to shorten the quarantine order for confirmed Covid-19 patients and close contacts and the testing requirement for overseas arrivals to five days starting from Friday (Dec 9).
In a Thursday press conference, Under Secretary for Health Libby Lee Ha-yun added the current social distancing measures will stay for another two weeks from next Thursday (Dec 15) to December 28.
Although Lee agreed that Hong Kong can refer to the Covid
rules in other regions, she denied that authorities introduce the changes to follow China's latest relaxations.
“Currently, it is not advisable to compare different areas on using what kind of anti-pandemic measures to control the Covid
pandemic, simply because different places have their own conditions like the healthcare systems, the affordability in meeting or treating patients. And also the vaccination coverage rates are different,” Lee told reporters.
The new five-day quarantine order will apply to confirmed patients and close contacts regardless of their vaccination status, Lee also said, as she noted that citizens need only two negative rapid antigen results on the fourth and fifth days to fulfill the order.
Lee referred to latest figures and explained that five days would be sufficient for authorities to detect if any close contact turns into an infection and if any overseas arrivals are carrying the coronavirus
As for the decision of not further easing social distancing measures, Lee pointed to the rising Covid
numbers, including confirmed cases, patients admitted to hospital and those in serious or critical condition, and deaths.
The no.2 health chief then moved on to the bivalent vaccine
and called on citizens, especially children and elderly, to get inoculated against Covid
-19 as soon as possible, citing “double threats” from lingering pandemic and winter flu season.
Hongkongers can make their reservations for the bivalent vaccine
as the third jab starting from tomorrow (Fri). Those who have made reservations already can also change their original third jab option to the bivalent vaccine
For seniors aged 50 or above, they are advised to get the bivalent vaccine
as their fourth jab three months after getting their third shot. Meanwhile, triple-jabbed adults aged 18 to 49 should wait for six months.
Starting 9am December 16, citizens aged 18 or above can make reservations for the fifth jab.
When asked about mainland easing the health code requirement from most venues, Lee also denied that Hong Kong's LeaveHomeSafe app and Vaccine
Pass requirement are stricter.