People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus cross a street with the Taipei 101 building seen in the background in Taipei, Taiwan, May 15, 2021. (CHIANG YING-YING / AP)
HONG KONG – Hong Kong has banned non-residents flying in from Taiwan as the city reported one imported COVID-19 infection on Monday.
The latest policy change came as Taiwan reported an all-time high of 206 locally transmitted cases on Sunday, more than tenfold of its standing record before the latest round of infections were reported
It is the second time in three days that the Hong Kong government has tightened rules pertaining to Taiwan arrivals.
The latest policy change came as Taiwan reported an all-time high of 333 locally transmitted cases on Monday, more than tenfold of its standing record before the latest round of infections were reported.
The island recorded 719 local infections in the past three days. It announced on Monday afternoon that foreigners would be banned from entry starting Wednesday until June 18.
Starting Monday, travelers arriving in Hong Kong who have yet to be fully vaccinated are required to undergo a 21-day hotel quarantine with four tests to be conducted during the period, the government said in a statement issued late Sunday night.
Fully vaccinated people are subject to a two-week hotel quarantine other than being swabbed three times to be tested for the virus during the isolation period. They also need to self monitor symptoms for seven days as well as undergo compulsory testing on the sixteenth and the nineteenth day of their arrival in Hong Kong.
Leung Chi-chiu, a respiratory medicine expert, said current outbreaks in Taiwan spiralled quickly and may have started in April. As such, those who returned from Taiwan last month should get tested as soon as possible.
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Citing Taiwan's low vaccine take-up rate and near-normal social activities prior to the latest outbreak, Leung said on a public radio program on Monday that Hong Kong needed to stay vigilant given its low level of herd immunity.
As of Sunday, 787,196 Hong Kong residents, or 12 percent of the entire population, had been fully vaccinated, while nearly 1,17 million had been inoculated with the first dose.
In comparison, barely 186,000 vaccine shots had been administered in Taiwan as of Saturday for a population of 24 million. The island has secured only AstraZeneca vaccine doses, but Taiwan residents showed “vaccine hesitancy” over its possible side effects and given the island’s until-recent success in managing infections.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection said the city's sole infection on Monday involved a 25-year-old woman from Indonesia who showed no symptoms of virus. The city’s tally of confirmed cases stood at 11,825.
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