Hong Kong will remain an “isolated island” if elderly people continue to be reluctant in getting Covid-19 vaccinations, Executive Council convener Bernard Charnwut Chan said on Sunday.
His remark came after Secretary for Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen had confirmed on Saturday that the government is mulling to extend the coverage of the "vaccine
bubble" to all designated premises, including eateries, to ramp up the city’s overall vaccination rate.
Details of the extension have yet to be announced, including whether unvaccinated elderly people will be allowed to visit restaurants still.
Just under 18 percent of people aged over 80 have received at least one Covid
dose so far.
“All the countries around the world prioritize vaccination for seniors to help protect themselves,” Chan said.
“But if the vaccination rate among Hong Kong’s elderly people continues to stay below 20 percent, I am afraid the SAR can never reopen its borders with the world,” Chan said.
He believed that seniors will get Covid
-19 jabs in the end, but they just lack the momentum to do so for now.
“If we wait for them, they may never get the shots,” he said.
“And if they don’t, the entire population of 7.4 million Hong Kong citizens will stay on this isolated island.”
The convener believed if the “vaccine
bubble” is extended to cover eateries, there will be limited impact on elderly people as most will get vaccinated.
Separately, Equal Opportunities Commission chairman Ricky Chu Man-kin said authorities’ anti-epidemic measures should not run contrary to the principle of “equal opportunities.”
“I agree that such measures may lead to differential treatments of groups or individuals from different backgrounds,” he said.
“But a more constructive way to handle things is to look into how to help these groups or individuals become qualified for the requirements of a vaccine
Hong Kong Council of Social Service chief executive Chua Hoi-wai thought the government should give society more time to discuss the latest proposal of extending the “vaccine
bubble” before rolling it out.
“The government should listen to people from different backgrounds before considering whether the proposal should be launched,” he said.