Hong Kong plans to introduce more incentives and “stronger guidelines” to encourage Covid-19 vaccine uptake, leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday.
The government will add more professions to the list of people who must undergo regular testing if they are not vaccinated, including teachers, more front-line civil servants and jobs which require “more interaction with the public.”
“We now need to push hard to push up the vaccination rates to build up herd immunity,” Lam said during a weekly briefing.
The city’s chief executive also said that despite an improvement in its vaccination rate, Hong Kong still needed to “push hard” in order to achieve herd immunity against the virus within the next two months. More than 35,000 people received their first dose on Monday.
“If we can sustain this momentum, hopefully by September we can achieve a 70 per cent vaccination rate,” Lam said.
Around 42 per cent of people eligible for the vaccine have received their first dose, while 30 per cent have received their second on Tuesday.
The leader also thanked the public for abiding by social distancing regulations, as the city saw a 43-day run of no local infections. The last local community infection was reported on June 7.
Hong Kong reported seven new infections on Tuesday, all of which were imported.
Ben Cowling, an infectious disease and epidemiology expert at the University of Hong Kong, said he believed the city has successfully eliminated infections within the community.
“We have passed three 14-day incubation periods with no local cases,” he tweeted. “I agree we have achieved community elimination.”
Social distancing regulations limiting public gatherings to four people still remain in place, while flights from high risk places, including the UK, remain suspended in a bid to curb the spread of the more infectious Delta variant.
Meanwhile, talks to review suspended plans of a travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore will be held in late August.
Hong Kong has reported a total of 11,966 infections and 212 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020.