In his first Question and Answer session with the Legislative Council since taking office, John Lee Ka-chiu, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, said he can't agree with the position of "lying flat" in dealing with the COVID-19 epidemic, and understood the difficulties for border opening but is hoping for a halfway plan for reducing inconvenience.
Lee said we can't let the infection numbers grow without taking any control, as more infection numbers could mean a higher chance for cases in severe condition and the death toll will grow. Anti-epidemic work has to include different factors and strike a balance with the risks and achieve the results with minimum cost.
As an international city, Hong Kong has been affected by the COVID-19 epidemic over the past three years. Border opening is also among the major issues of concern by Hong Kong lawmakers as some have asked for a clear roadmap of the HKSAR government to resume travels with the Chinese mainland and international society.
The CE pointed out it should effectively use the nucleic acid testing method and review infection numbers, improve the entry quarantine measures in a scientific way in reducing the inconvenience. As Hong Kong still records daily infections of about 2,000, Lee said he will communicate with authorities in the mainland in a practical way, looking to design a halfway plan.
Though opening the border remains an important issue for the new HKSAR government, Lee said any approach should also ensure that there won't be risks to increase the difficulties for the mainland in handling the epidemic.
Hong Kong's new Health Secretary Lo Chung-mau posted a blog on Monday, expressing hope for the border between Hong Kong and the mainland to be opened by August 4, noting that containing the epidemic in Hong Kong and reducing community transmission are the most important factors for cross-border exchange and border reopening.
Lee said Lo also emphasized on the precise measures in reducing the inconvenience for arrivals and the local government will consider expanding the application of technology and working on shortening the collective quarantine time.
Lee also said he will ask relevant authorities to finalize the work as soon as possible as it's important to increase the city's competitiveness and improve the business environment by facilitating travelers and local residents.