Hong Kong's John Lee sees no immediate need for mass Covid-19 testing

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee did not specify whether the goal would be to reach Covid-zero, the approach taken by mainland China. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Hong Kong's new Chief Executive John Lee said there is no immediate need for a universal compulsory Covid-19 testing campaign in the city but stressed that there needs to be a reduction in the number of daily infections, which are at the highest level since April.

Mr Lee, appearing on a programme broadcast by TVB on Sunday (July 3), shed more light on his Covid-19 agenda for the first time since being sworn in as Chief Executive on Friday by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was also in the city to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule.

Hong Kong should carry out more laboratory nucleic acid testing for Covid-19 because it is a reliable way to detect infections, but this would not expand into a universal compulsory testing campaign for now, Mr Lee said.

The Chief Executive acknowledged the need to reduce transmissions but did not specify whether the goal would be to reach Covid-zero, the approach taken by mainland China, which deploys mass testing campaigns and lockdowns to stamp out infections.

"It may not be necessary," he said. "What's the goal of compulsory universal testing? It's usually at the start of an outbreak or at the end."

He added that his administration was working with Chinese officials to introduce quarantine-free travel for people coming from Hong Kong to the mainland.

Local media previously reported that Mr Lee was considering proposing a closed-loop system to allow quarantine-free travel for business people.

The Chief Executive also said quarantine requirements for international arrivals to Hong Kong could be adjusted to reduce inconvenience.

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