Guangdong mulls all-purpose reopening

Local | Wallis Wang 25 Nov 2021

People who wish to tour Guangdong may be allowed to cross the border as the government will allocate some quota for non-business travelers, sources said.

It is understood that the government will reserve some of the 1,000 slots for businessmen, while the rest of the daily quota will be open to all Hongkongers on a first-come, first-served basis as the government will find it difficult to verify travelers' declarations.

Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu led Hong Kong officials to Shenzhen yesterday for a scheduled meeting today with mainland counterparts on the resumption of quarantine-free crossing.

The decision will be handed to the central government for approval.

Sze Lai-shan from the Society for Community Organization yesterday said allowing all travel is unreasonable and believed some quota should be reserved for compassionate use.

"I'm worried that people with critically ill family members [across the border] might not be able to get a quota to return to the mainland, causing lifelong regret," she said.

She suggested that people who fall under such cases can submit a declaration of their family member's medical history for verification.

Sources have said that Hong Kong can see a small-scale border reopening with the mainland on or around December 10.

Hong Kong finally reached 70 percent of the overall vaccination rate on Tuesday, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen announced.

Nip said on Facebook on Tuesday night that more than 4.7 million Hongkongers have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

"Although we achieved the 70 percent vaccination rate later than we had expected, it is still an important mark for Hong Kong," he said.

But Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said in a medical forum yesterday that the vaccination rate for the elderly is still too low, with only 20 percent of people aged over 80 getting inoculated.

She added that for those aged between 70 and 79, it was around 40 percent.

Chan also said Hong Kong needs to use more technologies and digital measures to help control the pandemic situation in the SAR.

"We have learned from past experience that it's important to digitize our work in contact tracing and to integrate data in a database."

She added: "We are also developing a Hong Kong version of the health code system to facilitate border reopening with the mainland."

The government last night also banned arrivals from wearing masks with air valves, or "selfish masks," in quarantine hotels because such masks cannot effectively filter exhaled air.

This came after a 36-year-old man wearing a mask with a valve passed the virus to another man living across the corridor at the Regal Airport Hotel in Chek Lap Kok.

Hong Kong yesterday recorded one imported case, taking the SAR's tally to 12,412 cases with 213 deaths.

The case involved an eight-year-old girl who arrived from South Korea on Korean Air KE607 on November 13. She is staying at the Penny's Bay Quarantine Centre.

The girl developed symptoms on Monday and was found to be carrying the L452R mutant strain.



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