January 23, 2023
HONG KONG –The isolation order for those who test positive for COVID-19 will be withdrawn from Jan 30, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said on Thursday.
Also from Jan 30, those testing positive for the virus will no longer be required to submit their personal data through the online self-reporting platform for COVID-19 patients run by the Department of Health, Lee said during a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Council.
The government will shift from the strategy of government-led management to allowing residents to decide how to handle the disease on their own, said Lee.
Lee said this decision was based on the fact that the city’s inoculation rates for the second and third vaccine doses have reached 93 percent and 84 percent respectively.
Moreover, since the fifth wave of the pandemic, many residents have developed some immunity to the coronavirus. Overall, the Hong Kong community already has a strong level of immunity, Lee said.
As the risks posed by the virus are now significantly reduced, and the community’s awareness of the disease and its ability to treat it have improved, the government must therefore adjustment its anti-pandemic management. It will shift from the strategy of government-led management to allowing residents to decide how to handle the disease on their own, Lee said.
The government will gradually establish a new system to manage COVID-19 as a common upper respiratory infection disease, which is a necessary step to ensure life in Hong Kong can return to normal, Lee added.
Travel resumption, promotion of HK top priority
Speaking of resuming quarantine-free travel with the Chinese mainland from Jan 8, Lee said that an average of 20,000 Hong Kong passengers have visited the mainland every day since then, with the land crossings operating well so far.
He noted that the government is working hard to further expand the scale of the resumption, and achieving full resumption of cross-boundary travel is at the top of the government’s agenda for the new year.
The chief executive also revealed that he and other senior officials are planning more visits to the mainland and to overseas countries over the following months in a bid to convey the message that Hong Kong is back on the global stage.
They will visit Guangdong province as soon as possible to strengthen connections and collaborations, Lee said, and will meet with provincial leaders and officials of the cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
As this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative, Lee said the Hong Kong government will make full use of this opportunity to strengthen its ties with other BRI economies.
In early February, Lee will lead a delegation of government department heads and local business leaders to visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. He will also attend the Boao Forum for Asia to be held in Sanya, Hainan province, in late March.
In addition to the large-scale “Hello HK” promotion exercise scheduled for February, the city will also host many cultural and business events with international participants and appeal in the coming months, such as the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, the Hong Kong Sevens, Art Basel, Museum Summit 2023 and the Pop Culture Festival — which will be held for the first time in the city.
Various local cultural, sports and transportation infrastructure will also be completed or begin construction this year. Lee said he hopes all these projects will help Hong Kong achieve a diversified and high-quality development in the new year.