Relax quarantine for inoculated says epidemiologist

An epidemiologist says the government should relax quarantine requirements for people who’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19 as this would boost vaccination rates. Official figures show almost seven percent of the population is fully vaccinated with almost twice that number having had at least one shot.

“I think one of the things we’ve really got to look at carefully is relaxing the quarantine for people arriving back in Hong Kong who have been fully vaccinated because they don’t pose nearly as much risk as arriving travellers who haven’t been vaccinated,” said Professor Benjamin Cowling from the University of Hong Kong.

“If someone has been vaccinated, they pose a much, much lower risk to Hong Kong so having a relaxation of on-arrival quarantine would already make a big difference. That would encourage a lot of people to get vaccinated, that would bring the vaccine coverage up, and Hong Kong would be safer as a result.”

Despite the low rate, the government is easing measures on restaurants, bars and similar venues from Thursday for staff and customers who have been vaccinated.

Venues wanting to stay open longer, or host larger gatherings, must ask customers to use the LeaveHomeSafe app. But Professor Cowling says it’s more appropriate to ask people who haven’t been vaccinated to use the location app, as they pose the most transmission risk.

“They’re in a bar, where all the staff and all the customers have been vaccinated. That may be the least important place to use the contact-tracing app because everyone is vaccinated, everyone is immune, there’s not going to be any transmission,” he said.

The SAR government’s Covid-19 website says 454,519 people, or 6.9 percent of the total population, have so far received two doses of either the Sinovac or BioNTech vaccine. The government says 872,458 people, or 13.3 percent of the population, have had at least one dose.