Beijing has committed to reserving a certain number of Covid-19 vaccines developed or produced on the mainland for Hongkongers “when necessary,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced during her policy address on Wednesday.

Lam also said voluntary community testing will be made more widely available, not ruling out the implementation of a second round of city-wide voluntary Universal Community Testing in a bid to quell further infections “should we have the support and cooperation of the general public.”

Coronavirus virus covid-19 testing
File photo: GovHK.

Lam however warned that the community should remain vigilant in spite of the promise of a potential vaccine: “As the research and development of vaccines take time, and the epidemic situation remains unstable and may persist for a period of time, we need to be prepared at all times for the next wave.”

Meanwhile, the construction of a temporary hospital is on track to be completed in January and a new community treatment facility at the AsiaWorld-Expo has been commissioned in preparation for future outbreaks.

Travel prioritised

Lam also said the gradual resumption of travel between Hong Kong and mainland China without the need for compulsory quarantine will be implemented “in an orderly manner through mutual recognition of health codes,” provided that the epidemic in Hong Kong is under control.

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The government’s response to the pandemic so far has been informed by scientific expert advice and information available at the given time, and “political considerations have never come into play,” according to Lam. Pro-democracy groups in the city have criticised the government’s prolonged four-person limit on social gatherings as a politically-motivated move to prevent demonstrations.

Hong Kong is currently on the brink of its fourth wave of infections, with daily infections reaching at total of 80 infections on Tuesday, the highest rate since August.

Carrie Lam 2020 Policy Address
Chief Executive Carrie Lam before she delivers the 2020 Policy Address. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The first round of Universal Community Testing held earlier in September tested over 1.7 million people and detected 42 new infections.

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Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.