Hong Kong to axe isolation rule for Covid patients, to end mask-mandate next

Hong Kong will lift the isolation order that required people infected with Covid to isolate themselves. The order, seen as part of government’s approach to revive the economy, will be implemented starting January 30. Thereby, to control the spread of COVID-19, Hong Kong will only have the mask mandate in place, city’s leader John Lee clarified in an address to lawmakers on Thursday.

As part of China’s moving away from the stringent zero Covid policy, Hong Kong, too, gave up other restrictions in December. For most of the pandemic over the last three years, Hong Kong has aligned itself with China’s “zero-Covid” strategy, requiring those who tested positive to undergo isolation. 

Reports suggest that many residents once had to be sent to hospitals or government-run quarantine facilities even when their symptoms were mild.

The city’s government is planning to end mandatory mask wearing in March or April, Ming Pao outlet reported, citing people familiar with the matter. 

Lee said the city has a “very sound barrier of immunity” and Covid will be managed like any other upper respiratory disease.

“Our understanding of COVID-19 and how to deal with it has been greatly enhanced,” Lee said. “As a result, the government’s management approach will have to change.”

“As most infected persons only suffer mild symptoms, the government should shift from a clear-cut, mandatory approach to one that allows residents to make their own decisions and take their own responsibilities when we manage the pandemic,” he said.

Hong Kong is also planning an aggressive campaign to display its strengths by holding a series of events.

Economists estimate that Hong Kong’s economy lost $27 billion in potential growth due to restrictions put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

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