Virus hint amid border race

Local | Moon Lam 28 Sep 2021

Hong Kong will actively enhance its anti-epidemic measures to reopen borders soon, acting chief executive John Lee Ka-chiu said after a meeting with mainland officials and experts.

That came as a 75-year-old foreigner who fled his quarantine hotel was found last night.

The man had been staying at Ramada Hong Kong Grand hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui but left it on Sunday - the second day following his arrival from Italy.

Speaking after a meeting in Shenzhen on Sunday, Lee said yesterday the central government has attached some importance to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's requests for the border to be reopened and that the SAR is hoping for another meeting as soon as possible.

"Hong Kong must keep its anti-epidemic measures effective. Not only is this important for the SAR's Covid-19 situation, but it will also set a good foundation for the border reopening," Lee said.

He said: "We know the epidemic situation fluctuates, especially when the Delta mutant variant brings many uncertainties."

"We must make sure the border reopening won't bring extra risks to the mainland."

When asked if mainland officials voiced any requirements for the border to be reopened, Lee said "there were no conditions raised for the border reopening."

On the man who escaped quarantine, hotel staff first noticed him wandering in the corridors on Saturday and requested he return to his room.

The incident was reported to the Department of Health, which arranged for a vehicle to send him to a quarantine center for better monitoring on Sunday, only to find he had already fled.

Surveillance footage showed him leaving the hotel at around 11am on Saturday and heading toward Nathan Road along Hillwood Road. Leaving a place of quarantine without permission is a criminal offense subject to up to six months in jail and a HK$25,000 fine upon conviction.

The SAR yesterday saw three imported cases from Kazakhstan, the Philippines and Egypt. All three have been fully vaccinated.

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