Hong Kong leader defends health code plan to combat COVID-19


HONG KONG — Hong Kong leader John Lee on Tuesday defended the city’s strategy to employ wellbeing codes that would more correctly prohibit the actions of inbound vacationers and those infected with COVID-19, dismissing fears that the program could be utilized as a political or social handle resource.

Lee, who spoke at a typical information meeting, reported the overall health code approach is component of the city’s aim to undertake “precise strategies to limit the scope of constraints.”

“We are a law-abiding position, the federal government will of system abide by the law,” he claimed. “Any measures intended for tackling the epidemic will not be used for other functions, it is not going to transpire.”

He was speaking a day soon after the city’s well being chief unveiled options to put into practice a well being code program in which those people infected with COVID-19 would obtain a pink code, while those people below lodge quarantine would get a yellow code. Those who receive this sort of codes will have their actions restricted.

The well being code actions are being regarded amid an increase in COVID-19 bacterial infections after the town battled its worst outbreak that spiked its cumulative figures to in excess of a million bacterial infections and around 9,000 useless.

Hong Kong documented a lot more than 2,700 cases on Tuesday. The city has on ordinary logged about a thousand infections day by day considering the fact that mid-June.

The prepared wellbeing code process has sparked worries about privateness and social management soon after Chinese media described that mainland Chinese authorities utilized its wellness code process to reduce residents from attending a prepared protest at a bank in the province of Henan.

Lee mentioned the health and fitness code method is a way of “early identification” of possible bacterial infections although influencing the minimum number of people.

“We aim to enable most people to get on with their life with a least quantity of constraints,” Lee mentioned, introducing that only those people infected with COVID-19 and inbound tourists will be restricted by the wellness codes.

Ben Cowling, an epidemiology professor at the University of Hong Kong, stated the yellow code for inbound tourists, if utilised with the recent method of seven times of lodge quarantine, would not have a great deal impact mainly because folks who go away lodge quarantine have a lessen threat of infection than the rest of the inhabitants.

Even so, if it can be intended for use with residence quarantine as an alternative of hotel quarantine, then the consequence will be “more transmission,” he claimed.

Cowling claimed the city should rely on vaccines and antivirals to limit serious illness.

Regardless of Lee’s reassurances about the health code program, some Hong Kong residents remain wary about it.

“This is a huge privacy concern, it’s like putting a focus on on the back again of folks who get purple or yellow codes,” stated Wong Wing-tsang, a 33-year-outdated Hong Kong resident. “Here, there is continue to the perspective where people today address all those with COVID-19 as outcasts.”

Lee, who turned the city’s chief on July 1, has been vocal about Hong Kong using an intolerant approach towards the coronavirus, very similar to mainland China’s “zero-COVID” coverage. The metropolis continues to be 1 of the few areas, with each other with mainland China, to maintain constraints this kind of as a mandatory quarantine interval as much of the entire world has opened up.

“In the extensive operate, I consider we have to be real looking about what varieties of challenges we may well be going through,” Lee claimed.

But some authorities say the wellness code program has only a really restricted impact on protecting against the unfold of the omicron variants that are driving outbreaks in the relaxation of the globe.

“Look at the aim specifics, in mainland China and Macao, they have had the wellbeing code program jogging for rather some time and yet we are observing the importation of several variants into various metropolitan areas,” reported Dr. Leung Chi-chiu, a respiratory professional. “COVID-19 is not a little something that we can reduce making use of a well being code and that is the objective reality.”

He mentioned that authorities ought to perform on boosting vaccination rates between substantial-threat groups such as the elderly and the incredibly young, and that if the city desires to open up to the rest of the globe though keeping outbreaks in check, it has to very first commence by soothing social distancing limits to construct up immunity amid its residents.


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