The Hong Kong government has submitted proposals to implement a “health code” system to the mainland authorities in the hope of resuming quarantine-free travel between the two territories, Secretary for Innovation and Technology Alfred Sit said during an interview with TVB on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong recorded three new imported coronavirus cases on Sunday midnight, including two vaccinated individuals from the Philippines and an unvaccinated person from Kyrgyzstan.

Alfred Sit at a TVB interview on Sunday. Photo: TVB screenshot.

Hong Kong’s “health code” plan involves having users self-report locations they visited everyday. The system would also allow citizens to review whether they had visited high-risk locations in the past 14 to 21 days by comparing their log to a list of places made public by the government. “The technology already exists,” Sit said.

However, Sit said he was “not sure” if the self-reported travel data would be submitted to the mainland. “I believe one would need to submit information [to the mainland authorities] prior to travelling,” he said.

The system will be incorporated to the existing “LeaveHomeSafe” app and would upload users’ travel records with their consent, Commercial Radio reported.

Tam Yiu-chung. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

However, Hong Kong National People’s Congress (NPC) delegate and pro-Beijing party Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) veteran Tam Yiu-chung said health authorities in mainland China would not accept an honour system that relies on self-reporting.

The mainland version of the “health code” tracks user location in the past 14 days through mobile GPS, as well as their payment and traffic data.

Arisina Ma, president of The Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association, said last year that the system raises privacy and ethical concerns.

No meeting in Beijing

Tam was among four NPC delegates barred from attending a routine NPC meeting in Beijing this week, local media reported, owing to a coronavirus case of unknown origins found in Hong Kong on October 7. The patient was a worker at the Hong Kong airport cargo terminal.

“Cases of unknown origins are of utmost importance to the mainland authorities,” Tam said in a video posted to DAB’s Facebook page. “For this reason, resuming travel between the two regions does not appear optimistic.”

He also advised that the Hong Kong and mainland governments could consider incorporating a quota system, vaccination, virus testing and health condition reporting 14 days prior to travel, as provisos for allowing Hongkongers to enter the mainland.

Russian consul tested positive

Earlier on Friday, a consul from the Russian Consulate General in Hong Kong who was exempt from mandatory quarantine tested positive with Covid-19 while undergoing home quarantine. The case triggered a temporary lock-down of Block 1 of the Grand Promenade where he resides. About 830 residents underwent mandatory virus testing but no other Covid-19 cases were identified.

Hong Kong has recorded 12,292 Covid-19 cases and 213 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.