'HK could re-launch citywide Covid testing scheme' - RTHK
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'HK could re-launch citywide Covid testing scheme'

2020-11-25 HKT 12:35
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  • 'HK could re-launch citywide Covid testing scheme'
Chief Executive Carrie Lam has suggested the government may introduce another universal Covid-19 testing programme to curb the spread of the virus, but she did not say whether the tests would be mandatory.

During her Policy Address, Lam said the government’s target is to achieve “zero infection” so that cross-border travel can be resumed as early as possible.

She said mainland authorities are willing to lift current compulsory quarantine requirements for cross-border travel when Hong Kong's coronavirus situation stabilises.

“As for arrangements to facilitate cross-border travel which the public are concerned about, provided that the epidemic in Hong Kong is under control, the Central Government supports the gradual resumption of travel between Hong Kong and Guangdong without the need for compulsory quarantine in an orderly manner through mutual recognition of health codes,” Lam said.

The government launched a city-wide coronavirus testing scheme in September as the mainland sent hundreds of testing staff to the SAR to work at a temporary laboratory. More than 1.7 million citizens were tested for Covid-19 but only a few dozen confirmed cases were identified.

She noted that Beijing has agreed to reserve a "certain amount" of coronavirus vaccines developed or produced in the mainland for Hong Kong when necessary, but no further detail was given.

Meanwhile, she dismissed allegations that politics was behind decisions made by the government to fight the pandemic.

Critics have accused the government of using the coronavirus outbreak as an excuse to keep social distancing measures in place, in order to curb protests.

“Not only do we have to consider the legal basis of the measures, the level of acceptance from the public and the impact on the economy, but also the practicability of the measures in achieving the desired effect," Lam said.

"This is by no means an easy task, but I can assure that every decision we made is based on science, expert advice and the information available to us at the time, and that political considerations have never come into play,” she said.