The Hong Kong government has no plans at present to require users of its contact-tracing LeaveHomeSafe app to register their names, Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry Sun Dong said on Thursday.

Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry. Photo: RTHK via screenshot.

“The LeaveHomeSafe app is linked with vaccination records so it is already under a real-name basis to a certain extent. We have no plan to further strengthen the real-name function, or introduce an additional auto-tracking function,” Sun said.

The tech chief noted that in any case, from February next year, all SIM cards must be registered under a real name.

Asked whether his remarks contradicted health chief Lo Chung-mau, who said authorities would push for real-name registration for the LeaveHomeSafe app and incorporate it with the health code system, Sun said Lo’s remarks were “not wrong.” However, there was no timeline for rolling out those measures.

LeaveHomeSafe app. Photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

China has since 2020 used a three-colour QR code health code system to restrict the movements of users who have Covid-19 or require quarantine. Local Chinese authorities reportedly used the system to control activists, prompting questions over surveillance and privacy should a similar system be introduced in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee has asserted that the city’s version would only be used for public health purposes.

Special testing service

The Hong Kong government on Thursday launched an online booking system for PCR tests for departing travellers at the Shenzhen Bay Control Point.

Health secretary Lo Chung-mau (centre) visited the testing site at the Shenzhen Bay Control Point. Photo: GovHK.

Travellers crossing the border to mainland China must undergo a PCR test before being allowed in. Long queues have built up, with people waiting up to several hours for a test.

The health secretary, who visited the port last week, apologised to people in line and promised to make improvements.

Online booking system for departure special nucleic acid test at Shenzhen Bay Control Point. Photo: Screenshot.

Through the new online booking system, people can reserve a time slot on their day of departure. They must present an SMS or a screen capture of the booking confirmation.

The daily quota for travel to the mainland via Shenzhen Bay port is around 2,000 and Lo said authorities hoped to help travellers to cross the border in under two hours.

The government said extra testing for outbound travellers was necessary to prevent the “exportation of local cases” to the mainland.

Deputy director of health infected

The Director of Health Ronald Lam was undergoing quarantine after his deputy Teresa Li tested positive for Covid-19 via a rapid antigen test.

Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Kingsley Wong also tested positive on Thursday and was self-isolating. On Wednesday he met Chief Executive John Lee, as well as three department secretaries and three deputies.

As of Thursday, Hong Kong had recorded 1,283,514 Covid-19 infections and 9,427 deaths since the pandemic began.

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Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.