Prominent virologist Malik Peiris says Hong Kong can consider immediately dropping mandatory Covid quarantine for incoming travellers because they don't pose a high risk.
Speaking on RTHK's Hong Kong Today programme, the University of Hong Kong professor said the figures for imported cases were much lower than for local ones, and arrivals would already be well vaccinated.
"Well, I think Hong Kong could lift its border restrictions right now. I mean if you just look at the most recent numbers from yesterday, we had 1,799 local cases and 118 imported cases so these imported cases are not really adding any major burden," he said.
"And certainly and particularly because the people coming in, the so-called imported cases, are all well vaccinated and generally they are not the high risk groups, who are most likely to get into trouble when they get an infection."
Peiris said there were concerns about new variants but many were already circulating.
"We already have BA.2 and this BA.2.12.1 in Hong Kong. There's BA.4 and 5 out there. But they are related to BA.2. They are not a huge additional risk."
Peiris also said if we look at the recent past, all the restrictions – including the previous 21-day hotel quarantine rule – did not prevent BA.1 and BA.2 getting into Hong Kong within a month.
International arrivals in Hong Kong must currently do seven days in hotel quarantine, which critics say is leading to Hong Kong losing ground as a centre for international business and finance. Foreign business leaders recently reportedly met Liaison Office officials and asked for quarantine to be scrapped.