A Hong Kong government medical adviser has urged people to get booster shots against Covid-19 before a possible next wave of infections sparked by the reopening of the mainland border, as the two sides held talks on a possible reopening.

“The whole world would need the third dose… in order to ride over the next wave. The next wave for Hong Kong will be the fifth wave, and we do not know when that will come,” Lau Yu-lung told the government’s Health Research Symposium on Tuesday.

Coronavirus Covid-19 BioNTech vaccine
Photo: GovHK.

“My guess is once we open the border and with more people movement across the border, the fifth wave will come. So before that, we need to prepare ourselves,” he said.

New cases of Covid-19 have remained low for almost six months in Hong Kong, with mostly imported infections in the single-digits since May.

Lau said new health policies should be drawn up in consultation with members of the community. “If there’s what we call a mandatory vaccine passport, in my view, we need to have an open, transparent, and very widespread discussion within out community.” 

Currently, people considered at high risk of infection, seniors aged 60 or over, and people who received two doses of Sinovac more than six months ago are eligible for a third booster dose of vaccine.

Mainland border

Lau’s comments come as local and central authorities are in discussions to resume quarantine-free travel across the border with mainland China.

Officials will meet on Thursday in Shenzhen to continue negotiations. The delegation will be led by the city’s number two official John Lee, leader Carrie Lam told a weekly press conference on Tuesday.

covid-19 Sophia Chan hospital doctor medical
Photo: GovHK.

A panel of mainland medical experts arrived over the weekend to tour the city’s anti-pandemic facilities as part of the negotiations.

The group inspected a community testing centre in Yau Ma Tei, a government Covid-19 testing lab in Tai Po, and the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals on Monday.

Hong Kong reported six new Covid-19 infections on Tuesday, all of which were imported. The city has registered a total of 12,411 cases and 213 deaths since the pandemic began almost two years ago.

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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.