Hong Kong should ‘learn to live’ with Covid: expert

Epidemiologist Benjamin Cowling said on Tuesday that a more sustainable Covid strategy for Hong Kong would be to “learn to live” with the virus.

The University of Hong Kong academic was speaking after the UK lifted pandemic restrictions on Monday.

“I think if we can get a high vaccination coverage, then learning to live with the virus, like they’re doing in the UK, might be a better, longer-term strategy,” he said. “We’ll have to do that sooner or later anyway.”

The British government on Monday lifted pandemic restrictions on daily life in England, scrapping all social distancing in a step slammed by scientists and opposition parties as a dangerous leap into the unknown.

UK authorities defended the move despite a sharp rise in infections with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying the country’s vaccine programme had severely weakened the link between infection, serious illness, and death.

The UK recorded just under 40,000 new Covid cases yesterday and 19 deaths.

Cowling also said a mainland travel bubble with Hong Kong could easily break down, as hopes of reopening borders after over 18 months of disruptions are buoyed by projected vaccination figures in the territory.

“I think that’s going to be a fragile bubble. I think there will be times when it’s open and there’ll also be times when it has to close again.

“Personally, I don’t think that’s a very good strategy or a very good target for Hong Kong to aim for.”

Officials had said the inoculation rate in the SAR could reach 70 percent by September.