'Ease pandemic rules further if cases are low' - RTHK
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'Ease pandemic rules further if cases are low'

2022-04-24 HKT 16:03
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  • 'Ease pandemic rules further if cases are low'
A government vaccine adviser, Ivan Hung, said on Sunday that the authorities can consider bringing forward the next relaxation of social distancing measures, because much of the population has already acquired natural immunity against Covid-19.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said earlier that a further relaxation of pandemic rules would come in late May – a month after evening dining services resumed in restaurants and places like gyms, cinemas, parks and sports grounds reopened.

Professor Hung, who's from the University of Hong Kong's school of clinical medicine, said if daily infections dip below a hundred, Hong Kong can ease the restrictions further as the chance of a rebound in cases would be very low.

He said this is also because some four million people have already been infected in the Omicron-driven wave, as estimated by his microbiologist colleagues at the university.

"[We can relax social distancing] because of our overall natural immunity, it's highly effective. So this will maintain for half a year, maybe a year. Therefore in these six months we have the condition to speed up the social distancing relaxation," Hung said after appearing on a TVB programme.

But he stressed that as part of the vaccine mandate, it's important for the government to keep the requirement for people to get a booster shot by the end of May.

Border restrictions, Hung said, should remain for some time until the three-jab vaccination rates of the elderly and children both reach 90 percent.

"If the overall situation further improves, say maybe in two, three months, the number of infections remains low and there are no new mutant strains, then maybe we can adjust further, for example by allowing inbound travellers to quarantine at home," he said.

At that point, the professor said, Hong Kong could cancel the flight suspension mechanism, although officials should still work on contact-tracing.

Hung stressed, however, that if a new, highly infectious Covid strain emerges, then the mitigation measures may have to be changed again.