'Govt isn't giving up on fight against Covid' - RTHK
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'Govt isn't giving up on fight against Covid'

2023-01-20 HKT 12:21
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  • 'Govt isn't giving up on fight against Covid'
Health minister Lo Chung-mau on Friday denied the government is giving up on its fight against the pandemic, saying authorities are only adjusting measures.

The government announced on Thursday that people with Covid will no longer have to isolate from January 30, and they will not have to report their infections to the authorities.

But Lo told an RTHK programme that there are other ways to monitor the Covid situation, like sewage surveillance. Officials will also collect relevant data from public and private clinics, he said.

The minister added that the administration decided to change its Covid strategy after balancing public healthcare risks against the impact on people's livelihoods.

"Our evaluation is that it is probably a more suitable time to adjust the policy now that [infection] figures are coming down. Our estimate is that it's possible there will be more cases, but since people have high immunity and our medical system can cope with nearly 30,000 cases [per day], we estimate that we are capable of changing the way we manage Covid," he said.

"The Covid situation has entered a new phase and so we have a new way to manage it."

Speaking on the same programme, respiratory disease expert Ho Pak-leung expressed support for cancelling the isolation requirement, but said it could be confusing for doctors to decide whether patients with Covid should be entitled to sick leave.

The University of Hong Kong scholar called on authorities to issue clear guidelines on the matter, saying it would be easier if all Covid patients get five days off - in line with the present arrangement.

Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Bill Tang echoed Ho's views, saying it is unclear whether people who need to get tested before going to work - like teachers and care home staff - should stay home if they test positive but do not have symptoms.

Meanwhile, a restaurateur said he will let staff who catch the virus but don't have symptoms decide for themselves if they want to go into work.

Raymond Chui, president of the Institute of Dining Professionals, said he is not worried that staff would spread Covid in the workplace, as there is a high vaccination uptake and many people have already recovered from the virus.