HONG KONG — Hong Kong chief John Lee on Tuesday defended the city’s approach to put into practice wellbeing codes that would much more properly limit the actions of inbound travelers and those contaminated with COVID-19, dismissing problems that the procedure could be used as a political or social manage software.
Lee, who spoke at a frequent information conference, reported the wellbeing code plan is component of the city’s aim to adopt “precise methods to limit the scope of limitations.”
“We are a law-abiding location, the government will of training course abide by the regulation,” he mentioned. “Any measures intended for tackling the epidemic will not be utilised for other reasons, it is not heading to occur.”
He was speaking a day immediately after the city’s health and fitness main unveiled strategies to put into action a well being code process in which all those contaminated with COVID-19 would receive a purple code, even though these beneath lodge quarantine would receive a yellow code. Those people who get such codes will have their movements limited.
The wellbeing code measures are getting considered amid an improve in COVID-19 bacterial infections immediately after the town battled its worst outbreak that spiked its cumulative quantities to more than a million infections and above 9,000 useless.
Hong Kong claimed much more than 2,700 instances on Tuesday. The metropolis has on normal logged about a thousand bacterial infections each day due to the fact mid-June.
The prepared well being code system has sparked considerations over privateness and social management soon after Chinese media reported that mainland Chinese authorities used its well being code system to stop inhabitants from attending a planned protest at a financial institution in the province of Henan.
Lee stated the health code program is a way of “early identification” of achievable infections though affecting the minimum number of persons.
“We goal to allow for most men and women to get on with their life with a minimal sum of constraints,” Lee said, introducing that only all those contaminated with COVID-19 and inbound vacationers will be limited by the wellness codes.
Ben Cowling, an epidemiology professor at the College of Hong Kong, mentioned the yellow code for inbound vacationers, if applied with the present-day procedure of seven times of lodge quarantine, would not have significantly outcome for the reason that individuals who go away resort quarantine have a reduced hazard of infection than the rest of the inhabitants.
Having said that, if it is supposed for use with house quarantine in its place of hotel quarantine, then the final result will be “more transmission,” he claimed.
Cowling reported the city need to count on vaccines and antivirals to lower serious ailment.
Even with Lee’s reassurances about the wellbeing code program, some Hong Kong inhabitants stay cautious about it.
“This is a massive privacy concern, it is like inserting a focus on on the back of people today who receive red or yellow codes,” stated Wong Wing-tsang, a 33-12 months-outdated Hong Kong resident. “Here, there is nevertheless the angle where by individuals handle individuals with COVID-19 as outcasts.”
Lee, who turned the city’s leader on July 1, has been vocal about Hong Kong having an intolerant method towards the coronavirus, very similar to mainland China’s “zero-COVID” policy. The city remains 1 of the couple of spots, with each other with mainland China, to retain limits such as a obligatory quarantine period of time as considerably of the earth has opened up.
“In the long run, I imagine we have to be real looking about what varieties of pitfalls we may possibly be experiencing,” Lee explained.
But some professionals say the wellbeing code program has only a really constrained influence on protecting against the spread of the omicron variants that are driving outbreaks in the relaxation of the world.
“Look at the goal specifics, in mainland China and Macao, they have had the overall health code procedure jogging for really some time and nonetheless we are seeing the importation of various variants into various cities,” explained Dr. Leung Chi-chiu, a respiratory specialist. “COVID-19 is not one thing that we can stop making use of a health and fitness code and that is the goal truth.”
He stated that authorities need to do the job on boosting vaccination charges among the substantial-chance teams these types of as the aged and the pretty youthful, and that if the city wants to open up to the relaxation of the entire world though preserving outbreaks in test, it has to very first start off by soothing social distancing restrictions to build up immunity amid its people.