Cutting the number of Covid-19 PCR tests arrivals to Hong Kong are required to take will not make the city more attractive to tourists, a legislator representing the tourism sector has said.

community testing centre
Covid-19 community testing centre. File photo: GovHK.

Health authorities announced on Thursday that from Monday, inbound travellers will be required to take two PCR tests – one when they land at the airport and then on the second day after their arrival – down from four. Arrivals will still be required to take daily rapid antigen tests for seven days.

Perry Yiu, who represents the tourism industry in Hong Kong’s legislature, told RTHK on Friday morning that while the policy update was “good news” for business travellers who stay longer in the city, it did not mean much for tourists.

“Compared with other places, our medical surveillance requirements and PCR testing remain stricter. [The new move] won’t make much difference to our attractiveness,” Yiu said.

Yiu urged the authorities to go further and scrap the second PCR test required from arrivals.

Perry Yiu
Perry Yiu. File photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Most visitors to would only spend three or four days in Hong Kong, Yiu said. “Maybe they have departed before they receive the results from their [second PCR test],” he added.

‘Not particular meaningful’

Speaking on the same radio programme, respiratory expert and government advisory Leung Chi-chiu said only the PCR test performed at the airport was “useful” for monitoring whether new Covid-19 variants were imported.

“With regards to the one taken on the second day… you have already allowed the person to enter the community, they are already at home,” Leung said.

“As [the virus] is out in the community anyways, whether you do a PCR test on that day is not particularly meaningful.”

Leung added that the new move would not have any “specific impact” on Hong Kong’s Covid-19 situation overall, as only around 8 per cent of the city’s daily infections were imported.

Leung said the Omicron subvariants XBB and BQ.1.1 were unlikely to cause exponential outbreaks in the city, as they did not cause such events in places with similar levels of immunity to Hong Kong.

“If we can keep the health system stable, in fact we don’t have to be particularly worried,” he said.

As of Thursday, Hong Kong has recorded 2 million Covid-19 cases and 10,569 related deaths.

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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.