Coronavirus: progress on experts meeting ‘very good sign’ for HK’s eventual reopening with mainland, Carrie Lam says

22-Sep-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 7:07 AM Print This Post

Gathering momentum for a meeting of Hong Kong and mainland Chinese medical experts represents a “very good sign” for the eventual reopening of quarantine-free travel across the border, the city’s leader has said.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s Tuesday update on the planned face-to-face dialogue came three days after it was endorsed by Chinese vice-Premier Han Zheng at a meeting in Shenzhen.

The sit-down, which will include officials and medical experts from both sides of the border, was first suggested by Lam earlier this month in the hope of speeding up the restoration of travel without quarantine between Hong Kong and the mainland.

“The mere fact that vice-Premier Han Zheng has attached his personal attention to the matter, and that we have received requests for more information to prepare for that meeting, are, in my view, very good signs,” Lam said ahead of her weekly Executive Council meeting.

It is hoped the dialogue will ultimately lead to a full resumption of cross-border travel, something for which there are still no clear guidelines or timelines, despite the city going more than a month without any local Covid-19 cases.

That streak continued on Tuesday as Hong Kong confirmed just one imported infection involving an arrival from France. Fewer than five people tested preliminary-positive.

The city’s tally of confirmed cases now stands at 12,166, with 213 related deaths.

Hong Kong’s recently launched “Come2HK” scheme has seen an average of 400 non-Hong Kong residents come to the city from the mainland and Macau every day without having to undergo quarantine, though the arrangement remains a unilateral move.

Separately, when asked if she would consider further scaling back anti-epidemic measures, allowing, for example, the reopening of barbecue and camp sites, Lam said the government had to tread carefully, as one infection could easily lead to outbreaks as demonstrated by cases overseas and on the mainland.

She also stressed that decisions about reopening the border would not be tied to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February.

Elsewhere, in an effort to boost the sluggish vaccination rate among the elderly, property company Sino Group’s philanthropic arm, the Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation, and developer Chinese Estates Holdings have expanded their lucky draw to residents aged 70 and above.

An additional 200 prizes of prepaid cards or credit cards, with a value of HK$10,000 (US$1,280) each, will be up for grabs.

The sponsors have also extended their deadline for reaching the goal of 5 million people in the city receiving at least one vaccine shot. If the goal is met by the end of November, as opposed to September, the foundation will give away a second flat, valued at HK$12 million, in the Grand Central project in Kwun Tong.

Meanwhile, a government outreach team will provide Covid-19 vaccinations from Thursday through Saturday at the Shek Lei Community Hall for nearby residents, in particular the elderly, hoping to get the Sinovac shot.

Earlier this month, the government announced that more outreach activities would be organised at places like shopping malls and housing estates in an effort to encourage older people to get vaccinated.


Category: Hong Kong

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