A medical expert advising the government on the Covid-19 pandemic on Saturday said that Hong Kong may be able to scrap the health monitoring requirement altogether for inbound travellers in weeks if local infections continue to drop.
Ivan Hung from the University of Hong Kong was speaking a day after the government announced it will scrap the current "three plus four" arrangement – where travellers have to quarantine in a designated hotel for three days and spend another four days monitoring their health.
From Monday, arrivals will be given an amber health code for three days, barring them from places like restaurants and bars.
The expert supports the change, saying the decision will help revive the economy and is supported by scientific data.
Hung said if the local epidemic comes under control and its pressure on the healthcare system is coming down, and more people become immune to the coronavirus either because of vaccination or previous infections, even the three days of health monitoring can be cancelled.
“Perhaps they can be given an amber code for a short time from their departure from the plane until they get their PCR test results. If it’s negative, they may be required to do PCR tests at required intervals, say on the second and sixth day upon arrival,” he said.
“But basically, once you depart from a plane and test negative, you can immediately visit restaurants or other places,” Hung said.
He said there will also be room to relax local social-distancing measures if infection numbers do not rebound. For example, close contacts of Covid patients may no longer have to self-isolate, and the cap on banquets may be lifted.