HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong chief John Lee on Tuesday defended town’s plans to implement well being codes that might extra precisely limit the actions of inbound vacationers and people contaminated with COVID-19, dismissing issues that the system could possibly be used as a political or social management software.
Lee, who spoke at an everyday information convention Tuesday, stated that the well being code plan is a part of town’s goal to undertake “exact methods to reduce the scope of restrictions.”
“We’re a law-abiding place, the federal government will in fact abide by the legislation,” he stated. “Any measures meant for tackling the epidemic is not going to be used for different functions, it isn’t going to occur.”
He was talking a day after town’s well being chief unveiled plans to implement a well being code system in Hong Kong, the place those that are contaminated with COVID-19 would obtain a crimson code, whereas these below resort quarantine would obtain a yellow code. Those that obtain such codes can have their actions restricted.
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The town’s well being code measures are being thought of amid a rise of COVID-19 infections after town battled its fifth and worst outbreak that spiked its cumulative numbers to over a million infections and over 9,000 useless.
Hong Kong greater than 2,700 instances on Tuesday. The town has on common logged over a thousand infections every day since mid-June.
The deliberate well being code system has sparked issues over privateness and social management after Chinese language media reported that mainland Chinese language authorities used its health code system to prevent residents from attending a deliberate protest at a financial institution within the province of Henan.
Lee stated that the well being code system is a method of “early identification” of attainable infections whereas affecting the least variety of folks.
“We goal to permit most individuals to get on with their lives with a minimal quantity of restrictions,” stated Lee, including that solely these contaminated with COVID-19 and inbound vacationers shall be restricted by the well being codes.
Regardless of Lee’s reassurances concerning the well being code system, some Hong Kong residents stay cautious about it.
“It is a huge privateness difficulty, it’s like inserting a goal on the again of people that obtain crimson or yellow codes,” stated Wong Wing-tsang, 33-year-old Hong Kong resident. “Right here, there’s nonetheless the perspective the place folks deal with these with COVID-19 as outcasts.”
Wong stated that the system didn’t appear to be notably complete, particularly if those that are contaminated with COVID-19 select to not self-report their signs.
“We’ve had these restrictions for 2 to a few years, however nothing has improved,” she stated.
Lee, who grew to become town’s chief on July 1, has been vocal about Hong Kong taking an illiberal strategy to the coronavirus, like China’s “zero-COVID” policy. The town stays one of many few locations, along with mainland China, to keep up restrictions corresponding to a compulsory quarantine interval as a lot of the world has opened up.
“In the long term, I believe now we have to be reasonable about what sorts of dangers we could also be dealing with,” Lee stated.
However some specialists say that the well being code system has solely a really restricted affect on stopping the unfold of the omicron variants which can be driving outbreaks in the remainder of the world.
“Take a look at the target details, in mainland China and Macao, they’ve had the well being code system working for fairly a while and but we’re seeing the importation of assorted variants into completely different cities,” stated Dr. Leung Chi-chiu, a respiratory specialist. “COVID-19 isn’t one thing that we will forestall utilizing a well being code and that’s the goal actuality.”
He stated that authorities ought to work on boosting vaccination charges amongst high-risk teams such because the aged and the very younger, and that if town desires to speak in confidence to the remainder of the world whereas holding outbreaks in test, it has to first begin by stress-free social distancing restrictions to construct up immunity amongst its residents.
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