Hong Kong, Oct 28 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong announced Wednesday it will waive mandatory quarantines for city residents traveling from China from November if they present a negative coronavirus test prior to entry.
The new regulation is a new step toward reopening borders after the stabilization of the pandemic in the former British colony, although the plan will be limited to about 1,000 people daily.
At this time, only two land border checkpoints with China are active, in Shenzhen Bay and on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Tuesday that the epidemiological situation in the city is “quite stable,” adding it is “it is necessary to be vigilant.”
“Other cities that chose to reopen and relax prevention measures later saw spikes in cases,” she said.
To return to China free from quarantine, Hong Kong residents will first have to fill out an application through a mobile phone app.
They will also have to do a nucleic acid test and send the results electronically, after which they will receive a health code to show to the authorities once they return from China.
Lam said the Hong Kong airport authority will launch a “rapid test mechanism” from this week for residents from other parts of the world.
Returning residents now have to wait eight to 10 hours for their arrival at the Hong Kong airport to obtain the necessary coronavirus test results, after which they can quarantine at home if tests are negative.
But residents who have visited a high-risk country in the last 14 days must certify before embarking a hotel reservation to quarantine there or agree to spend it in specific government centers.
Lam noted said her government is considering putting Spain and Italy on its list of high-risk countries to reduce imported COVID-19 cases.
Countries currently considered high risk are Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Russia and – from Nov. 3 – Belgium.
Health authorities said in their Wednesday update that the city has detected 5,308 cases of COVID-19 as well as 105 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. EFE-EPA