Government vaccine advisor Ivan Hung told local media on Sunday that the second phase of relaxing social distancing restrictions can be brought forward earlier than May, as much of Hong Kong’s population has already acquired natural immunity against Covid-19. On April 21, Hong Kong kicked off the first phase of easing its anti-pandemic measures, which included reopening cinemas and gyms and extending restaurant dine-in hours until 10pm.
Hung – who is co-convener of the Expert Committee on Clinical Events Assessment and from the University of Hong Kong’s School of Clinical Medicine – recommended this course of action if the daily infection case count consistently remained below 100. He added that there is little chance of a rebound in cases as his HKU colleagues estimate that four million Hongkongers have already been infected with the Omicron variant.
However, Hung emphasized that accelerated relaxation of social distancing measures would also depend on the vaccination rates in the city. He maintained that it is crucial for people to get their booster shot by May 31, and that border restrictions should remain in place until 90% of the elderly and children get vaccinated.
Once these targets are reached and given that no other highly infectious strains emerge, Hung added that inbound travellers – who are currently required to spend at least seven days at a designated quarantine hotel – could even be able to isolate at home ; other measures, such as the route-specific flight ban, could also be lifted, but other measures like contract tracing should continue.
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