Border control is the most effective step: expert - RTHK
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Border control is the most effective step: expert

2020-01-25 HKT 20:58
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  • HKU expert Ho Pak-leung says people should be stopped if they are coming from areas where there have been large outbreak of the virus. Photo: AP
    HKU expert Ho Pak-leung says people should be stopped if they are coming from areas where there have been large outbreak of the virus. Photo: AP
A top microbiologist said on Saturday that imposing restrictions at the border and barring people from mainland areas where the coronavirus has spread is “the single most effective measure” that Hong Kong can take.

In a Facebook post soon after the government announced new measures, head of the University of Hong Kong's Centre for Infection, Ho Pak-leung had called for a border shutdown for about ten days.

Speaking to RTHK about his comment, Ho said the measures announced by the government were "useful", but most of it would take some time to be implemented.

"I am particularly concerned about the supply of the surgical masks in Hong Kong," he said. Assuming a person wears one mask a day, Hong Kong would need about 6 million masks a day, he said.

"So before these announced measures could be effectively implemented, I think it is important to implement some kind of border control at all the immigration points where Hong Kong connect with the mainland China," said the microbiologist.

Ho said by sealing of the border does not mean complete shutdown, but imposing restrictions on people coming from areas like Wuhan where there is large scale outbreak. He pointed out that all the five cases identified in Hong Kong so far were people who came from Wuhan.

He said the central government has locked down a number of cities around Wuhan to prevent the spread of the virus. "So if we could target those cities that are already shut down by the mainland authorities it will line up with the measures implemented with the mainland," he said

Chief Executive Carrie Lam had rejected calls for a temporary ban on arrivals from the mainland, saying it was inappropriate and impractical.

Gabriel Leung, head of HKU medicine faculty, who was among the officials briefing the media said he and other experts who met the CE on Saturday to review the situation agreed with this decision not to shut the border. He said all strategies should be based on science and not politics.