Fully vaccinated Hong Kong travellers to the UK will no longer have to undergo pre-arrival testing or quarantine, after the British government updated its coronavirus travel guidelines on Thursday and said they now recognise vaccination records issued by the Hong Kong authorities.
From next Monday, travellers from Hong Kong to Britain who have received two doses of Covid-19 vaccine will only have to be tested once after arrival.
The UK government currently recognise Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Janssen vaccines. Sinovac is currently not an approved vaccine in the UK.
The move comes after the Hong Kong government updated vaccination records to include recipient’s date of birth, sex, and the manufacturer of the vaccine last month on vaccine certificates.
Meanwhile, The Centre for Health Protection’s (CHP) Scientific Committee will look into offering a third dose of Covid-19 vaccine for those in need, according to the latest policy address announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Wednesday.
A government source told HKFP that the committee will also look into offering a third dose to the wider population, and the possibility of mixing different brands of vaccine.
Hong Kong currently offers two types of Covid-19 vaccine: Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac. While citizens have to receive two doses of the same brand of vaccine, a small group of people, including lawmaker Regina Ip, took part in clinical tests on the effect of getting three doses, and had received both brands of vaccines.
‘Zero Covid’ strategy
Hong Kong has one of the strictest Covid-19 quarantine restrictions in the world as the government holds a “zero Covid-19” strategy, despite a health expert saying that the quarantine periods for fully vaccinated travellers are “unnecessarily long.“
As Lam said in her policy address that the government will look into reopening the border with mainland China in a manner which is “orderly and safely,” and said earlier that it was “more important” than resuming international travel.
“It is more important for Hongkongers to be able to travel to the mainland, whether its for the economy or for their livelihoods… Of course, international travel and international business are important for us, but comparing the two, the mainland is more important,” said Lam on Tuesday.
A government source also told HKFP that the “zero Covid-19” strategy would remain a “basic criteria” for the city, and that they “cannot see” the conditions allowing for the drastic loosening of social distancing measures in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has seen several weeks without any locally transmitted cases. However, the streak might be broken after a 48-year-old man working at the Hong Kong International Airport tested preliminarily positive on Thursday.
Around 400 people living in Golden Glory Court, Phase 1, Golden Lion Garden in Sha Tin had to undergo compulsory Covid-19 testing after the government imposed a lockdown on the building. Officials found no positive cases, and the lockdown was lifted on Friday morning.
Hong Kong has reported 12,252 cases and 213 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic over a year ago.