Wet markets could be off-limits to unjabbed: expert


A government advisor on Covid-19 vaccination on Saturday said more venues, such as wet markets, should be made off-limits to those who hadn’t had a jab, should the administration’s vaccine passport policy fail to encourage more people to get inoculated.



Ivan Hung, from the University of Hong Kong, was speaking a day after the government announced that its “vaccine bubble” scheme would be expanded by the Lunar New Year, saying it was a good incentive for vaccination.



People wanting to enter venues – such as restaurants, gyms, cinemas, beauty salons and libraries – will need to have received at least one Covid shot.



Speaking to reporters after appearing on an RTHK programme, Hung said the government might need to raise the entry requirement to two doses after the holidays in order to boost the current vaccination rate to around 90 percent.



“For the elderly, if unfortunately they have not received the vaccine, they would not be able to have access to certain places, including restaurants… It’s important to protect them because these are high risk places where they can contract the virus,” he said.



“In the future, if necessary, they would need to tighten up [to include] wet markets, supermarkets or even parks in order to protect them.”



The infectious diseases expert also said the government would have to act quickly to tighten social distancing measures should Hong Kong see another community outbreak of Covid in the next two days.



A Cathay Pacific aircrew worker is believed to have infected his father at a restaurant on Monday, as well as a diner who sat 10 metres away – after returning from the United States.



The Cathay employee later tested positive for the highly-infectious Omicron strain.



“Maybe in one or two days we will actually know how severe the spread of the Omicron variant is within the community. If we see more cases, then definitely we need to tighten up the infectious control measures, in terms of social distancing and major events with a lot of people,” Hung said.



Hung also said he expects BioNTech to apply to lower the minimum age for the vaccine to five years old in Hong Kong soon, noting regulators in the US and Europe had already given the green light.

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