CE to update anti-epidemic measures

March 17, 2022

(To watch the full press conference with sign language interpretation, click here.)


Chief Executive Carrie Lam said today the time has come for the Government to have a mid-term review of its anti-epidemic measures and she will give a comprehensive update and future direction on those measures on March 20 or 21.


The Government announced on February 22 a range of anti-epidemic measures which will be maintained until April 20.


Mrs Lam told the media at a press conference this morning that she has a strong feeling that people's tolerance is fading and some financial institutions are losing patience with those measures.


“Instead of waiting for April 20, which was the original end period of the range of anti-epidemic measures I announced on February 22, on the basis that the coming two months would be critical, I think the time has come for the Government to have a mid-term review of all those measures, ranging from border controls, such as flight bans, to quarantine period for arrivals, to whether we are going to do this compulsory universal test, and the resumption of face-to-face learning in schools and social distancing measures.


“The reason why I think the time has come is not because of the number of cases has come down significantly, they are actually now at the high-level plateau in public health terms.


“I have a very strong feeling that people's tolerance (of these measures) is fading. I have a very good feeling that some of our financial institutions are losing patience about this sort of isolated status of Hong Kong and Hong Kong is an international financial centre. Nobody attaches as much importance as myself to Hong Kong's international status under “one country, two systems”.


“So with those feedback given to me from various sectors and people, I will boldly take this step to update you on the mid-term about the future direction of some of those measures.”


Asked by reporters if the Government will consider shortening the number of days for compulsory quarantine at hotel for inbound travellers, Mrs Lam said that needs a bit more time to figure out.


“The period for the quarantine order and the isolation order is still 14 days. But what the Centre for Health Protection has put in, which I think is a sensible move, is if you do a RAT, a rapid antigen test, on day six and day seven and if it turns out to be negative, then you will be regarded as discharged and you can resume your normal living.


“So in terms of consistency, there is a very strong basis for us to apply more or less the same rule to arrivals. But we just need a bit more time because it's not a simple situation as ­since Hong Kong has so many COVID-19 cases, why should you ban people from other places which are less serious than Hong Kong from coming in?


“That is only one of the factors when we consider border controls.


“The other factor is the Hospital Authority (HA). For example, if you have a flight coming in with 20, 30, 40 infected cases upon arrival, these people will have to be taken care of by Dr Ko (Hospital Authority Chief Executive). So I have to take full account of the pressure on my HA colleagues in opening up the border again.”

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