Hong Kong sees over 7,500 cases, contact tracing app now flagging unvaccinated users

Hong Kong sees over 7,500 cases, contact tracing app now flagging unvaccinated users
FILE PHOTO: People queue at dusk at a makeshift testing centre for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Hong Kong, China February 20, 2022. REUTERS/Lam Yik

The backstory:

  • Hong Kong is aiming for a “dynamic zero infection” situation, which, according to state-backed media outlet Xinhua news agency, does not mean trying to get to zero cases. Instead, it aims to identify new infections as early as possible so that the virus can be contained.
  • But despite the strategy, the city is now seeing its fifth wave and recording more cases than ever since the pandemic started over two years ago. These new cases started spiking after the Lunar New Year celebrations.
  • With that, Hong Kong has imposed its most stringent COVID-19 social distancing policies to date, with a vaccine pass being introduced on February 24 only allowing those who have received at least one dose of the vaccine into certain areas.
  • On Sunday, Hong Kong recorded 6,067 new COVID-19 cases, 12 of them imported, 10 of which are critical and 14 deaths.
  • Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan told Commercial Radio Hong Kong earlier Sunday that there’s “definitely no room for relaxing social-distancing measures.”
  • Several additional measures are being considered, including having police perform checks on people’s vaccination status in shopping malls and further limiting dining-in at restaurants.

The development:

  • On Monday, Hong Kong saw 7,533 new COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths. An 11-month-old girl was among the casualties.
  • Hong Kong’s LeaveHomeSafe app has started flagging users who haven’t uploaded vaccination records.
  • The LeaveHomeSafe app – mandatory for entrance to many restaurants and other public venues – was updated over the weekend and now flashes a red QR code on its check-in page for users that haven’t linked to an official immunization record.
  • Hong Kong is scheduled to introduce its vaccine pass on February 24, which will involve spaces like malls and restaurants prohibiting entrance to people who haven’t had at least one shot.
  • The city’s most stringent social distancing rules to date are up for reevaluation on the same day. However, it seems unlikely that bars and gyms will resume operations.

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