Local expert says home quarantine for returning HK residents from overseas will not have big impact on epidemic

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25th May 2022 – (Hong Kong) The COVID-19 epidemic in Hong Kong has eased. Ho Pak-leung of the Centre for Infection and Infectious Diseases of the University of Hong Kong said on the radio program this morning (25th) that more than 200 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in a single day in the past few months. The situation is generally in line with expectations, and it is believed that even if there are stricter measures at the border, it cannot 100% stop sporadic cases from entering the community. He pointed out that the current infection in Hong Kong still involves Omicron virus and there is no significant genetic mutation.

If the infected person has been vaccinated, there is no big difference in the risk of severe illnesses.

As for the 6 cases in St. Catherine’s Kindergarten in Kowloon Tong, 58 students in two classes involved have to suspend classes until Friday (27th). Ho said that since the start of school, there have been about 349 cases of infection in various schools. The number of cases is not particularly high. The risk of transmission in schools is lower than the risk of transmission in the community or household. He pointed out that most of the kindergarten students have not been vaccinated. In the past, there have been several cases of necrotising encephalitis after infection among unvaccinated children. Now children aged 3 to 5 can be vaccinated with CoronaVac vaccine. He believes that parents should balance the risks. As for whether the border control measures can be relaxed again, Ho believes that if the relevant measures are relaxed, there may be more BA.4 or BA.5 sub-variant cases, but more than 180 countries or areas have relaxed their measures but these places also have different mutant virus strains. The number of cases have risen in general but severe cases have remained stagnant.

Ho believes that, given the current situation in Hong Kong, if the quarantine period for inbound travellers is shortened from 7 days to 3 days, or if Hong Kong residents can undergo home quarantine instead, it will not have a big impact on the epidemic. In addition, Bernard Charnwut Chan,  the incumbent Non-official Convenor of the Executive Council was asked if he could cancel the flight suspension mechanism when he attended an event today. He said that it may not be possible in the short term, and he hoped that after the local vaccination rate reaches a certain level, more border control measures can be relaxed.

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