Govt is closely monitoring Mu variant: health chief

Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Saturday that officials were closely monitoring the situation involving the Mu variant, but she stressed that Hong Kong had stringent measures in place to prevent the virus from spreading into the community.

The SAR had earlier recorded three Covid-19 infections involving the variant, which has been newly listed by the World Health Organisation as a “variant of interest”.

Speaking after a morning radio programme, Professor Chan was asked by reporters whether the variant posed any risk to the local community.

“We are also reviewing all these different variants of concern… Of course when we have inbound travellers, there is always risk. But all the stringent border control measures that we have instigated, we try to mitigate all the risks concerned,”Chan said.

“Because of the frequent testing, we actually identified confirmed cases, not only at the airport but also during the quarantine period,” she said.

The minister said officials would monitor the situation and review measures if necessary.

The health secretary was attending the morning radio show to defend the government’s proposal to allow doctors – who are non-locally trained and who are not permanent residents – to work in public hospitals here, under a special registration scheme.

Authorities said the plan would attract more non-locally trained doctors, so the workload of local doctors could alleviated and patient waiting times improved.

But the plan has drawn opposition from the medical sector, with reports saying the Academy of Medicine was displeased with the amendments and that it was calling for further consultation.

In response, the health chief said the government had announced the amendments soon after the Executive Council agreed to make the changes, while officials also called doctors’ groups to explain the proposal.

“I must emphasise that during these amendments, we have maintained the professional standards and we have not lowered any quality of requirements of these standards of the non-locally trained doctors. Because this is very important and this is something that we will always maintain,” Sophia Chan said.