'Officials can attend ceremony if they test negative' - RTHK
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'Officials can attend ceremony if they test negative'

2022-06-24 HKT 15:59
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  • Leung Chi-chiu says guests to the July 1 ceremony should avoid any activities that involve the removal of masks. File photo: RTHK
    Leung Chi-chiu says guests to the July 1 ceremony should avoid any activities that involve the removal of masks. File photo: RTHK
An infectious disease expert says if Eric Chan and Erick Tsang can obtain two consecutive negative PCR tests that are carried out 24 hours apart before July 1, then it will be safe for them to attend the inauguration ceremony for the new government.

But Leung Chi-chiu from the Chinese University said it’s hard to predict whether they can fully recover from Covid-19 by then.

Chan, the incoming chief secretary, and constitutional and mainland affairs chief Tsang tested positive on Thursday.

Speaking to RTHK on Friday, Leung said the pair probably contracted the coronavirus in recent days.

“Because most of our senior officials have been undergoing Covid-19 testing regularly, their recent positive tests might indicate that they have just developed the disease. For that, because of the new onset disease, it’s difficult to tell at this moment whether their disease course will be short enough to have completed recovery before July 1,” he said.

Leung noted that officials and guests are required to undergo PCR tests every day and stay at a quarantine hotel on the eve of the ceremony, but said the short quarantine period is no more than a measure that “helps to ease our mind”.

The expert suggested that authorities require attendees to do a rapid test one to two hours before the ceremony, adding that it’s more important for officials and guests to keep their masks on during the ceremony and not to mingle too much.

Taking group photos without wearing a mask, toasting, or eating together should be avoided altogether, he said.

“It should keep the ceremony as simple as possible, just retain all the essential ceremony so that mixing and high risk exposure can be kept to a minimum,” said Leung.

Another infectious diseases expert, Joseph Tsang, believes Chan and Erick Tsang may recover from Covid in time to attend the inauguration.

He said that people who have been vaccinated and who are infected with a low viral load can turn negative for Covid in a relatively short period of time.

The expert said the key to preventing further infections would be for the officials to avoid contact with others before July 1.