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‘Vaccine passports’ pushed, as 13 new Covid-19 cases reported

19 March 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap

CE Lam says incentives may be given to those who get vaccinated 

A Hong Kong health expert has called on the government to introduce so-called “vaccine passports” to popular destinations like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan as an incentive to get more people to get Covid-19 jabs.

Infectious disease expert Dr Ho Pak-leung from the University of Hong Kong made the call after Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that the government was looking at giving out incentives to those who opt for vaccination.

Mrs Lam said among those being considered were exemptions to certain travel and social distancing restrictions for those who have received their two vaccine doses.

Pindutin para sa detalye

The call came as 13 new Covid-19 cases were reported today, Mar 19. Three of them were imported, and included a newly arrived Filipina domestic worker who tested positive at the airport and was found to have the more infectious N501Y variant.

The two others were Indonesian domestic workers, one of whom also tested positive at the airport, and the other, on her 12th day in hotel quarantine.

Ho says a vaccine passport could encourage more residents to get the jab

Speaking in a radio interview, Ho said the government should reach out to these travel destinations and explore whether they could mutually agree on giving quarantine exemption to travelers who have been vaccinated in their respective territories.

Call now!

He said the issuance of the vaccine passport or certificate will encourage more Hongkongers to get vaccinated, while easing travel between the city and the two destinations.

“Travelers could be considered to have enough immunity against the coronavirus two weeks after they get two doses of the vaccine,” he said.

As a safety precaution, Ho said Hong Kong could still require the travelers to undergo testing for Covid when they return from their holiday.


The same call was issued by Jason Wong, chairman of the Travel Industry Council, who said that the possibility of unrestricted traveling would make more local people go for inoculation.

“Most Hong Kong people would love to fly again. With those vaccine certificates, or vaccine passports, perhaps it might help to regain the confidence of those countries to welcome our travelers again,” Wong said.

European governments have disclosed a similar plan of issuing a certificate to their residents who have either been vaccinated or were recently recovered from Covid-19, that will allow them to travel freely within the EU.

Pindutin para sa detalye

In an address to the Legislative Council Wednesday, the Chief Executive bemoaned that not enough people in Hong Kong are taking up the offer for a free Covid-19 vaccine.

She said public cooperation was important in achieving the administration’s target of zero infections.

“If we require people to go for compulsory testing they won’t do it, and now we encourage people to take the vaccines, people don’t do that,” she said.


Lam suggested that a higher take-up rate for the vaccine could become a pre-requisite for relaxing social distancing measures while those who get vaccinated could be allowed to cross the border with ease.

Reports of seven people dying after receiving the China-made Sinovac vaccine have led to mounting public concern over safety, despite experts dismissing any link between the deaths and the jabs.

Since the adverse reports linked to Sinovac, the take-up rate for its vaccine had dropped to just about 80%, while for BioNTech, it has been well over 90%.


Still, well over 20,000 people are still getting the jabs on a daily basis. On Thursday, 11,800 people received the Sinovac vaccine and about 10,800 the BioNTech one.

Around 276,600 people have now been vaccinated against Covid-19 in Hong Kong, with about 201,500 receiving their first dose of the Sinovac jab, while about 75,100 taking the US-German vaccine, Pfizer/BioNTech.


Chuang says the number of unlinked cases continues to be cause for concern

Meanwhile, Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection said that of the 10 local cases today, six were linked to previous cases, including 3 from the Ursus Fitness cluster.

A total of 138 cases have now been traced to the gym outbreak, and Chuang said the new ones are coming from quarantine centres, meaning there may no longer threats of a silent transmission from that cluster.

One of the unlinked cases is that of a 23-year-old man who tested negative way back in February, while he was under quarantine after four of his family members were found infected.

Chuang said they are still studying whether this is a case of new infection or if the man was infected previously but did not test positive because his viral load was low.

Another untraceable case was that of a 62-year-old housewife in Lam Tin who regularly visited a restaurant near her home. A neighbor she interacted with in the eatery also tested preliminary positive for the virus.

The two other unlinked cases involved a 36-year-old man who works at Dorset House at One Island East where two earlier infections linked to Ursus were found. Another is a 71-year-old who works as a chef at a restaurant in Tuen Mun.

About 10 preliminary positive cases were recorded.

Chuang said that despite the drop in cases, it may be too early to say the infection has been brought under control because there is still a high proportion of untraceable cases.


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