Hold off on dropping outdoor masking: Leung Chi-chiu - RTHK
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Hold off on dropping outdoor masking: Leung Chi-chiu

2023-01-25 HKT 11:53
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  • Hold off on dropping outdoor masking: Leung Chi-chiu
A respiratory medicine specialist, Leung Chi-chiu, said on Wednesday that the authorities should only consider allowing people to stop wearing masks outdoors a couple of weeks after the Lunar New Year holidays, while indoor masking must stay for now.

His comments come as officials consider their next steps on pandemic regulations, with health minister Lo Chung-mau telling Commercial Radio that there's a chance that the remaining anti-Covid measures could be relaxed after the holiday period.

Leung said in response that he thinks any relaxation should be done in a gradual and orderly manner.

"One thing [the authorities] have to be careful with [is], there's still a risk of short-distance transmission outdoors. There are many people gathering during the Lunar New Year activities," he said on an RTHK programme.

"It's best to wait a couple of weeks after the holidays before officials consider relaxing the outdoor mask orders."

Leung said officials need to think carefully before allowing people to go without masks indoors, noting that transmission is much more likely in indoor settings, and any change in those rules should wait until after the winter, when the peak in hospital admissions has passed.

Speaking on Tuesday another expert, University of Hong Kong microbiologist Ho Pak-leung, urged the government to axe the remaining Covid restrictions, including ending compulsory mask wearing outdoors, saying the SAR had entered what he called a "post-pandemic era".

However Leung said that while the daily caseloads have been on a downward trend, it was possible more people would need hospital treatment for Covid after joining gatherings over the holiday.

But he said that a requirement for people to take nucleic acid tests before going to and from the mainland could be dropped as soon as possible, saying that the epidemic situation on the mainland has gone past its peak.

Asked about a recommendation from American health authorities that people have a Covid vaccine injection every year, Leung said most people can consider getting a jab before every winter, while elderly people may need a booster every six months because their immunity wanes faster.

Hold off on dropping outdoor masking: Leung Chi-chiu