Medical experts from mainland China have arrived in Hong Kong for a four-day tour of the city’s anti-pandemic facilities as authorities continue discussions relating to reopening the border with the mainland.

The group, which includes experts from the National Health Commission of Guangdong province, arrived on Saturday. RTHK reported that personnel from China’s Ministry of Health and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention were also part of the visiting team.

Hong Kong Airport
Photo: GovHK.

The city’s number two official, John Lee, welcomed the delegation, reiterating the city’s commitment to pursuing “zero infections.” Hong Kong would “guard sternly against the importation of cases and the resurgence of local infections,” Lee was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Mainland officials have stringently pursued a “zero-Covid policy” across the border, imposing mandatory quarantines on thousands of people linked to confirmed infections.

In Hong Kong, the delegates inspected anti-pandemic measures at the airport, the contact tracing centre at Kai Shek, and the Hospital Authority’s North Lantau Hospital Hong Kong Infection Control Centre. The city last week introduced new measures to segregate mainland travellers from international travellers at the airport to minimise the risk of cross contamination.

The team also visited the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Port and government quarantine facilities at Penny’s Bay.

The official visit was organised by the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office and the mainland’s National Health Commission.

Reopening the border

The visit comes as local and central authorities are in discussions to start quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong and the mainland. Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said opening the border with mainland China was a higher priority than opening the city up for international travel.

“The HKSAR Government will also continue to strengthen and put forward various anti-epidemic measures in accordance with the principle of joint prevention and control in order to foster favourable conditions to press ahead the resumption of quarantine-free travel between the Mainland and Hong Kong in a gradual and orderly manner,” a government statement said on Saturday.

discovery bay covid-19
Photo: GovHK.

The city maintains some of the world’s strictest anti-pandemic measures for inbound travellers, imposing mandatory hotel quarantine of up to 21 days despite low levels of mostly imported infections since May.

Hong Kong reported two new cases on Sunday, both imported, bringing the total number of infections to 12,402. The city has reported 213 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began almost two years ago.

An overnight compulsory testing of three residential buildings in Discovery Bay on Sunday evening yielded no new infections after more than 270 people were tested.

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Rhoda kwan

Rhoda Kwan

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.