All Hong Kong government employees – except those with valid exemptions – must receive at least two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine before April 1 in order to enter government buildings and offices, a government spokesman announced on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the city reported 56,827 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, of which two were imported.

The Central Government Offices. File photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

The government published a press release on Thursday afternoon about the latest vaccine requirements for its employees, in which a spokesman said the new measure would “further speed up the strengthening of the protective barrier against the virus among civil servants,” as well as “mitigate any impact on the government’s anti-epidemic effort.”

Under the updated arrangement, all government employees must receive their second jab before April 1 to enter government buildings and offices for work-related purposes, unless they have a valid exemption certificate.

After that, all staff will be required to receive their third dose before May 16, or within eight months from their second jab, in order to work in government premises.

Unvaccinated deaths

During Thursday’s regular Covid-19 briefing, health officials announced that Hong Kong had recorded 144 Covid-related deaths within the past 24 hours.

A student receives a Covid-19 vaccine in Hong Kong. Photo: GovHK.

Larry Lee, the Hospital Authority’s chief manager (integrated clinical services), reported that 124 of the deaths were unvaccinated, while 10 had received one jab and the rest had received two doses of vaccines. Lee did not specify which brand of vaccines the deceased had chosen.

According to Lee, 134 of the 144 were aged over 65 years old.

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The city’s health authorities have analysed more than 920 deaths that occurred since the beginning of the fifth wave and found that 91 per cent had not received two doses of vaccines, Under Secretary for Food and Health Chui Tak-yi told reporters.

Refrigerated containers for corpses arriving

Hong Kong’s fifth wave of Covid-19 has led to an acute surge in infections and deaths in recent days and overwhelmed the capacity of hospital and public mortuaries. Unrefrigerated bodies have been seen in emergency departments, corridors or even outdoors at public hospitals.

During Thursday’s Covid-19 briefing, Lee said the Hospital Authority now had dozens of refrigerated containers at hand. “Suppliers are installing [the containers] at different hospitals as soon as possible… They should have already arrived at some hospitals today.”

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.