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China mainland and Hong Kong will see ‘limited travel in July’
Published on: 2021-07-01
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Hong Kong and mainland may be able to reopen their border for quarantine-free travel next month if conditions to do so safely are met, according to top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan.

Zhong said Hong Kong had done well in preventing community spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19 because of measures such as testing entire residential blocks when a case was identified.

“If Guangdong and Hong Kong continue to interact and monitor [the situation], there should be limited travel in July if the criteria [for reopening the border] are met,” he told reporters in Guangzhou on Friday, without elaborating on the criteria. “I think reopening the border with Hong Kong will [happen] sooner [than for international borders].”

Zhong said he had exchanged views with Sophia Chan Siu-chee, Hong Kong’s health minister, noting that measures like quarantine and compulsory testing in hotspots had been effective.

But he said it was difficult to say when China would be able to reopen borders for travel bubbles with other countries, particularly given the growing prevalence of the highly transmissible Delta strain.

“I think it is impossible to predict when we can open the border internationally … even if Hong Kong and the mainland have done well, if there are countries that are doing poorly [in containing outbreaks] you may never be able to open the doors.”

He said the risk was high if China reopened its borders too soon and that “the consequences may be endless”.

Zhong also said making passengers take swab tests before they boarded flights was not enough to keep a lid on cases. He gave the example of a flight this month from Johannesburg, South Africa to Shenzhen that led to mainland China’s most recent cluster of local infections.

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