Visits to acute hospitals open to those vaccinated

The Hospital Authority will allow fully vaccinated people to visit family members staying in 12 acute and specialist hospitals starting next Wednesday.

But a patients’ rights group questioned if the jab requirement is necessary.

The authority said on Thursday that the hospitals will soon get in touch with patients’ families to arrange one-on-one visits up to twice a week, but they must have received their second Covid jab at least 14 days before the visit.

The arrangement will only apply to patients who have stayed in the facilities for more than a week.

The 12 hospitals are Ruttonjee Hospital, St. John Hospital, Tseung Kwan O Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Eye Hospital, Caritas Medical Centre, North Lantau Hospital, Yan Chai Hospital, Nethersole Hospital in Tai Po, North District Hospital, Pok Oi Hospital and Tin Shui Wai Hospital.

Currently, visits to acute facilities around town are banned, and visitors can visit patients at 26 non-acute facilities with a negative Covid test result and a health declaration form.

A Hospital Authority spokesperson said different requirements are needed when visits are extended to acute hospitals.

“Amid the huge volume of service and people movement in acute hospitals, the arrangement aims at minimising the infection risks of patients and staff in the hospitals,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The chairman of Hong Kong Patients’ Voices, Alex Lam, welcomed the resumption of visits at some acute hospitals, but said the vaccination requirement was unnecessary.

“Considering a person who has received vaccination may still be able to get infected, I don’t see why the HA does not accept persons who are able to produce negative test certificates for visitation purposes,” he said.

Lam said it could be unfair to patients’ families who cannot get the jab because of their own health conditions, pointing out that they should be able to visit their families with a negative test result.

The authority said if successful, the arrangement would be extended to bigger acute hospitals, such as Queen Mary Hospital, at the end of the month.