Plan to open border with mainland China sparks fears in Hong Kong — Radio Free Asia read full article at worldnews365.me

Hong Kong chief John Lee on Wednesday introduced plans to open the town’s inner border with the remainder of China by mid-January, sparking fears that the present wave of mass COVID-19 infections sweeping the country will engulf the town, sparking a run on medical sources.

“I am very grateful to the Central Folks’s Authorities for making the path that we are going to resume regular journey with the mainland step-by-step … with a view to full opening for normalization,” Lee informed journalists in Hong Kong.

“That’s what we’re doing now in shut dialogue with the [mainland Chinese] authorities … for implementation earlier than the center of January,” Lee mentioned.

The federal government additionally introduced the lifting of all COVID-19 restrictions from Thursday, together with vaccine passports, limits on public gatherings and obligatory quarantine measures.

Nonetheless, it made no point out of any mitigation measures for guests from China, who’re already being subjected to quarantine, temperature surveillance and testing necessities by some international locations because the nation lifts bans on abroad journey.

The bulletins come after Lee made his annual work report back to Chinese language Communist Occasion chief Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang final week.

Predicted surge

Hundreds of customs, immigration and law enforcement officials can be despatched to checkpoints to handle a predicted surge in site visitors because the border between Hong Kong and the mainland reopens, in response to the Communist Occasion-backed Wen Wei Po newspaper.

The transfer has generated issues in Hong Kong over a possible rush of arrivals from mainland China as individuals there search imported vaccines and primary medicines amid a massive surge in COVID-19 infections that has adopted the lifting of the strict zero-COVID coverage.

Gabriel Choi, former president of the Hong Kong Medical Council, mentioned the opening of the border will probably ramp up stress on Hong Kong’s healthcare suppliers as guests search imported vaccines and over-the-counter medicines which can be in brief provide in mainland China.

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Youngsters play at a park in Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022. Credit score: Reuters

“They may be capable of purchase up medicines and get vaccinated, after which when Hong Kongers want the jabs within the face of this new wave of the virus, they will not be capable of get them,” Choi warned. “Issues are a multitude in mainland China proper now, and now they’re attempting to shift a few of that stress onto Hong Kong.”

Social media posts displaying individuals the right way to get entry to free vaccination in Hong Kong with imported jabs – not typically out there in mainland China – have been circulating in current days on WeChat and Xiaohongshu, with native healthcare companies bracing themselves for an enormous improve in demand.

Cash to be made

A Hong Kong hospital physician of greater than 20 years’ expertise who gave solely the surname Cheung mentioned there’s loads of cash to be made by the non-public healthcare sector in providing imported COVID-19 jabs to well-heeled guests from mainland China.

“Hong Kong at the moment has sufficient vaccines, and the federal government sells a few of them to personal hospitals,” Cheung mentioned, including that solely the federal government is allowed to acquire the vaccines.

“The issue is that the Hong Kong authorities hasn’t given out any pointers on the right way to handle mainland Chinese language guests coming to get vaccinated in Hong Kong, like specifying whether or not they are going to get them freed from cost or for a price,” she mentioned.

“This may increasingly imply a excessive quantity of Chinese language guests coming to get vaccinated.”

Current info revealed by the Hong Kong Society of Hospital Pharmacists has indicated that there are solely sufficient provides to vaccinate the town’s 7.5 million inhabitants.

Present affairs commentator Jason Poon mentioned the federal government has by no means made public the sum of money it has poured into vaccine procurement.

“Hong Kong’s monetary scenario is not superb, with a fiscal deficit of greater than 200 billion Hong Kong {dollars},” Poon informed Radio Free Asia. “It is doable that the vaccines value greater than 200 Hong Kong {dollars} per dose.”

“[This kind of] generosity to mainland Chinese language will certainly arouse public resentment in Hong Kong, which might’t afford it. The federal government ought to … cost individuals who come to Hong Kong to get vaccinated,” he mentioned.

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Hong Kong Chief Government John Lee [center right] stands subsequent to Chinese language President Xi Jinping [center] throughout a dinner on the Asia-Pacific Financial Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand in Nov. 2022. One commentator says Lee’s administration is now dancing to Beijing’s tune. Credit score: Hong Kong Authorities Data Companies through AP

One other commentator, Sang Pu, mentioned the authorities used to prioritize the wants of Hong Kong residents over these of mainland Chinese language, together with performing to stop ladies from mainland China from giving beginning in Hong Kong hospitals with the intention to safe a everlasting residence ID card for his or her baby.

Now, Lee’s administration is dancing fully to Beijing’s tune, he mentioned, including that the political motive for opening the border with Hong Kong was “to totally combine Hong Kong into the catastrophe unfolding in China.”

“I can assure that in the event you have been to ask the individuals of Hong Kong immediately, to place it to a referendum, they would not vote to open the borders,” Sang mentioned. “However John Lee is displaying complete obedience to the directions he’s receiving from the Communist Occasion Central Committee.”

“He’s opening the borders and letting the outbreak in, creating nice worry in Hong Kong, however public sentiment is not being mirrored by the Legislative Council, and that’s the tragedy of the Hong Kong individuals,” he mentioned.

‘Tsunami-like’

Respiratory drugs skilled Leung Chi-chiu mentioned present mutations of the Omicron variant circulating in mainland China should not be taken frivolously.

“In the event that they unfold quickly, these mutations can develop into the dominant variant in … a brief time period, or gasoline excessive reinfection charges amongst individuals who have had it earlier than,” Leung informed Radio Free Asia.

“In some populations there’s exponential progress, that means that infections will double each two or three days, which might produce a tsunami-like outbreak [here in Hong Kong],” he mentioned. “These are the [main] dangers to be cautious of.”

China Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention virologist Xu Wenbo mentioned on Dec. 20 that greater than 130 sub-lineages of Omicron have been detected in China in the course of the previous three months, with 50 of these rising unexpectedly.

Some, together with BQ.1 and XBB, are characterised by elevated transmissibility and immune escape capabilities, Xu mentioned.

Hong Kong customs official Ida Ng mentioned painkillers and different prescribed drugs are at the moment topic to export allow necessities earlier than they are often taken out of Hong Kong.

“Painkillers and different pharmaceutical merchandise are underneath management and require an import and export allow issued by the Division of Well being earlier than being taken out of Hong Kong,” Ng mentioned in feedback quoted by The Normal newspaper. “Nonetheless, it’s acceptable if a passenger brings an inexpensive quantity – like one or two packs – for his/her personal use.”

She mentioned the authorities predict greater than 800,000 crossings a day in any respect ports and airports as soon as the border reopens, on a par with volumes final seen in 2019.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Malcolm Foster.

#asiannews #asian_news

About By Cheryl Tung and Jojo Man for RFA Cantonese, Chen Zifei for RFA Mandarin

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