Covid-19: Hong Kong to ban unvaccinated from schools, libraries and museums next month

Hong Kong’s ‘vaccine bubble’ measures against Covid-19 are set to expand on February 24, with schools and cultural and recreational public places requiring those who enter to be vaccinated, city leader Carrie has announced. Lam.

Executive Director Carrie Lam meets with the press on January 4, 2022. Photo: Tom Grundy / HKFP.

Health officials had earlier announced that they plan to ban unvaccinated people from restaurants, gyms, cinemas and other premises this month, as set in the planned list of Hong Kong’s disease prevention orders. – however, the plan will now be postponed after the Lunar New Year. Only people under 12 years of age or with medical proof of health conditions will be exempt.

In his regular meeting with the press on Tuesday, with cases at an eight-month record high, Lam said the impending restrictions on unvaccinated citizens would not be limited to sites currently listed.

She added that the details had not yet been worked out, for example whether the rule applied to everyone entering the premises: “As far as schools are concerned, our first step can apply to principals, teachers. and other staff, but that may not be the case. [required] for all students yet.

The number of people receiving their first dose of the vaccine has increased since the announcement of upcoming measures, according to Lam. On Tuesday, 72.9% of eligible citizens had their first vaccine, with around 18,000 people having received the first vaccine on Monday alone. Lam said it was a new record in recent months.

While public institutions are urged to implement similar restrictions, Lam said that, at this time, the government does not plan to extend the vaccine bubble measures to private spaces such as corporate offices or offices. shopping centers, but it cannot rule out the possibility of implementing stricter rules. in the future.

Lam also said Hong Kong was “not yet in a position to further tighten social distancing measures,” as all cases can still be traced to imported infections.

She said the government was more cautious about suspending classes because research shows that stopping face-to-face teaching has huge impacts on students, especially students from low-income backgrounds. .

Vaccination against the coronavirus in Hong Kong. Photo: Government of Hong Kong.

Ramon Yuen, Democratic Party spokesperson for medical policy, said the expansion of vaccine bubbles was “unnecessary” at the moment. He said the World Health Organization “clearly states that compulsory vaccination is a last resort … Hong Kong now has very few cases of local transmission with traceable sources and there are already many strict measures in place to control it. social distancing in action “.

As of Monday, there were 29 new confirmed cases and 40 preliminary positive cases. The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases is 12,693, while the death toll stands at 213.

The Omicron cluster is growing

Meanwhile, more Omicron infections were detected in the city as a cluster of restaurants continued to grow.

The outbreak of the most infectious variant at Moon Palace restaurant in Kowloon Tong’s Festival Walk shopping center last Monday has now affected six diners.

The last patient who tested positive preliminary was a 66-year-old woman who had dinner at the same time as the alleged source – a 44-year-old former Cathay Pacific employee who was later found to have broken quarantine rules and therefore fired by the airline.

Penny’s Bay Covid-19 Quarantine Center in Lantau. File photo: GovHK.

Lam said authorities are still looking for six guests of concern, while more than 370 close contacts and their family members have been sent to Penny’s Bay for quarantine and testing.

Responding to questions from HKFP on whether the Omicron cluster will affect the reopening of the border with the mainland, Lam said “this would certainly have an impact on ongoing discussions with mainland authorities on resuming some normal travel. “and” we would have to wait [a] during ”before the recovery takes place.

The Leave Home Safe app developed by the Hong Kong government for tracing Covid-19 contacts. Photo: Government of Hong Kong.

HKFP also asked if authorities plan to improve the ‘LeaveHomeSafe’ app’s tracking capabilities, as some experts have suggested, but Lam said she believes Hong Kong’s tracking system is already ” quite effective ”. She cited the successful plotting of 201 of the 207 dinners in the restaurant group as a “major achievement.”

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