Expert calls for strict Beijing entry requirements - RTHK
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Expert calls for strict Beijing entry requirements

2020-06-18 HKT 11:25
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  • Ho Pak-leung says business travellers from the mainland should also have their exemption cancelled if they have visited Beijing recently. Photo: RTHK
    Ho Pak-leung says business travellers from the mainland should also have their exemption cancelled if they have visited Beijing recently. Photo: RTHK
Hong Kong University microbiologist Ho Pak-leung has urged the government to tighten entry requirements for people who have recently been to Beijing, in light of the growing Covid-19 outbreak there.

Ho said people who have recently visited the capital should be held for testing at land border points, similar to arrangements for those flying into Hong Kong from foreign countries.

Speaking on an RTHK radio programme on Thursday, he said that people who have been given an exemption from the 14-day quarantine period, like business travellers and those who do business on the mainland, should also have their exemption cancelled if they have arrived from Beijing.

Ho said it was understandable that the government would want to relax some social distancing measures in light of the economic situation in Hong Kong, but said that restaurants are still high-risk places because patrons take their masks off and air does not circulate indoors.

He also said that the number of Covid-19 tests in Hong Kong has not improved, and the monitoring of high-risk groups was "passive".

Ho's comments come after Beijing confirmed 21 new Covid-19 cases as of Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections recorded over the past week to 158.

Speaking on RTHK's Hong Kong Today on Thursday, HKU virologist Professor Malik Peiris said that aggressive coronavirus testing and surveillance, and movement restrictions are key to containing the Beijing outbreak.

"I think we have to accept that repeated clusters are going to arise in many places that have achieved a level of control," Peiris said.

"Until such time as when we have a vaccine, keeping control of this outbreak is going to be a sustained effort from the health authorities, from the politicians and most importantly from the general public."

On Wednesday, health authorities in Hong Kong confirmed eight more imported cases of Covid-19, taking the total number of cases in the SAR to 1,120.