University of Hong Kong microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung on Thursday called for an independent inquiry into the government’s response to Covid-19, so the city can make better preparations for when the next pandemic comes.
On a Commercial Radio programme, Yuen noted that an investigation was conducted after the Sars outbreak in 2003 and it resulted in the establishment of the Centre for Health Protection.
The administration had since put more resources into research and all this helped in the fight against Covid, he said.
Yuen said there was obviously room for improvement in contact-tracing and isolation arrangements during the current pandemic.
“We saw 12,000 to 13,000 deaths. Why don’t we conduct a thorough investigation and clarify what we should do in future? Speaking for myself, if I’m unlucky, as an infectious disease expert, I might see a third pandemic during my lifetime. Hong Kong must be prepared for it.”
As for Hong Kong's ongoing mask-wearing requirements, Yuen said these ought to be dropped by the end of March, when the weather gets warmer and viruses have a shorter life cycle.
He warned that there may be a surge in Covid-19 and other respiratory disease infections after the relaxation, but said this is an inevitable process.
“Once we take off our masks, the situation may get quite serious. But we have already said in February and March 2020 that this virus will stay with us… We have to open up sooner or later, and it's better to open up sooner after enough people are vaccinated,” he said.
By October and November, Yuen said people should get a Covid booster shot to prepare for a possible rebound in the winter.