26th January 2023 – (Hong Kong) Three years after the COVID-19 epidemic ravaged Hong Kong, the Hong Kong government has finally loosened most of the epidemic prevention measures. There is even news that the authorities plan to lift the mask order in March. Yuen Kwok-yung, chair professor of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, who is also a government expert consultant, said that the mask order should be revoked between March and April, when the daily minimum temperature rises to at least 20 degrees Celsius. The COVID-19 virus and influenza will spread normally in summer and the viruses will survive for less time, which can strengthen the community’s mixed herd immunity. The possibilities of winter outbreaks can be reduced if we can maintain the COVID-19 cases at low level this summer, and the public medical system will not collapse again. Yuen also mentioned that after the SARS outbreak 20 years ago, Hong Kong has established the Centre for Health Protection, laying the foundation for the fight against COVID-19 virus, especially in terms of intelligence collection, response and administrative management. In addition, Hong Kong has been in contact with Mainland academic institutions, and has already prepared itself by the end of 2019 against COVID-19 pandemic.
Keiji Fukuda, another a government expert consultant who was an Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organisation from 2009 to 2016 pointed out that vaccines are the main defence tool against viruses. Citizens may need regular vaccinations against the COVID-19 in the future. Priority should be given to the elderly and patients with chronic diseases, and the vaccination frequency needs to be further studied.