Hong Kong to push reopening unless new variant emerges

The Secretary for Health said that the government is looking at the data and easing of measures will be done “cautiously, safely and smoothly”.


People walk along the promenade in the Tsing Yi district of Hong Kong on Sept 23, 2022. (ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP)

September 30, 2022

HONG KONG – Hong Kong will stick with its policy to reopen to the world unless any new variant of COVID-19 emerges, the city’s health chief said on Thursday, when the authorities registered 4,269 new coronavirus cases including 245 imported ones.

Besides reporting that four more patients passed away in public hospitals due to the coronavirus disease, the Hospital Authority registered six more critical patients, bringing the number of patients in critical condition to 39.

During an exclusive interview on “Bloomberg Markets: Asia” on Thursday, Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau was asked about the further easing of pandemic curbs. The government is looking at the data and has to do it “cautiously, safely and smoothly,” he replied, adding: “If you look at the whole process, I think we are working faster than what other people expect.”

Asked about the possibility of rolling back the reopening measures, he said, “Not, if there is no more variant. We have to be prepared. Emerging diseases may come at anytime. The whole world has to be prepared.”

If you look at the whole process, I think we are working faster than what other people expect.

Lo Chung-mau, Secretary for Health, HKSAR

He stressed that Hong Kong has an obligation to make sure that it doesn’t “cause a major outbreak in the rest of China”.

Of the new COVID-19 cases registered on Thursday, 4,024 were locally transmitted. Total 3,000 of the cases were detected through rapid antigen tests (RATs) while the rest by nucleic acid tests, according to the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health.

There were also 498 positive cases concerning 426 students and 72 staff, filed by 373 schools.

Meanwhile, two residential care homes for the elderly and one for disabled people logged five virus cases involving their residents and staff.

Of the imported cases, 230 were detected through nucleic acid tests and 15 by RATs.

Since there were positive sewage test results with relatively high viral loads in several areas of Islands, Kwun Tong, Sha Tin, Tai Po and Central and Western districts, the respective district offices will distribute COVID-19 rapid test kits to relevant residents as well as cleaning workers and property management staff working there, said the government.

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