Travelers From China to Be Segregated at Hong Kong Airport
(Bloomberg) -- Passengers traveling from mainland China will be segregated at Hong Kong’s airport, in a move aimed at convincing the Chinese government to reopen its border with the city.
The airport will be split into different zones to avoid cross-infection among inbound passengers. The proposal was initially reported in the South China Morning Post and confirmed by Food and Health Secretary Sophia Chan on Thursday.
“The airport is a high-risk place as there are so many cases around the world and nearly half of those imported are detected there,” Chan said in an interview with Radio Television Hong Kong. “We are considering segregating tourists from the mainland and other places to different zones or more at the airport.”
Details are still being worked out before the plan is confirmed on Nov. 10 and implemented soon after, according to the SCMP, which cited unidentified people briefed on the proposal last week.
“The segregation and infection-containment effort at the airport have to be precise,” Chan said, adding that some divisions are already in place. “We are now studying further segregation, like testing different visitors at different areas in the airport.”
Hong Kong and mainland China are the last bastions of Covid Zero, a policy abandoned by most other places as they open up and allow freer travel. The city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said restarting two-way travel with China comes above everywhere else, frustrating the business community and many residents unable to leave without the burden of weeks in quarantine upon return. As long as China persists with Covid Zero, Hong Kong is likely to follow.
In a separate report Thursday, the SCMP said Hong Kong travelers could be allowed to visit the neighboring mainland province of Guangdong, potentially from mid-December.
With its strict border controls, Hong Kong has only had 12,352 confirmed Covid-19 cases in total, a figure topped on a daily basis by many countries. The death toll stands at 213. But the lack of urgency has helped fuel a lag in the vaccination rate, with only about 59% of the population fully inoculated.
Over the border, China is battling its most widespread outbreak of the delta variant, which has come despite the government’s aggressive containment efforts. On Sunday, nearly 34,000 people at Shanghai Disneyland underwent testing after one visitor tested positive for the virus.
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