Zero-Covid ‘unsustainable’ on road to reopening

A prominent microbiologist has outlined a timetable for Hong Kong’s reopening while arguing the city’s current zero-Covid strategy is unsustainable and its inoculation rate must be further boosted.

Speaking on a radio programme, Yuen Kwok-yung said it is high time that vaccine passports be introduced, among other measures.

“If you announce the policy now, by March everyone should have received two doses. People cannot go to work or school if they’re unvaccinated,” he said, adding that Hong Kong could gradually resume international travel when its vaccination rate exceeds 90 percent.

By next summer, he said, the SAR could fully reopen if 99 percent of its people have been triple-jabbed.

Yuen also noted there would inevitably be a “transitional period” of more than two months that would see a surge in deaths and infections, which happened in many other parts of the world as well such as Singapore.

He said the virus would spread among unvaccinated elderly people here after the resumption of international travel, leading to 1,000 or more deaths.

But Yuen stressed it’s a phase that the city must go through after reopening, adding that it’s best for it to happen in the summer when infections tend to be less serious.

He said the government should act now or it would miss an important opportunity for people to resume normal lives.

The scientist also described the emergence of the Omicron variant as a chance for Hong Kong to reopen to the world, as the symptoms of vaccinated people would mostly be mild even if they are infected.

He said with good preparation, public hospitals would be able to cope with the wave of infections.

He expressed hope that with such a plan, life in Hong Kong would return to normal by the end of next year.