HK to implement health code system once epidemic under control: Officials

Residents enter a gymnasium for COVID-19 testing in Hong Kong, Sept 4, 2020. Hong Kong launched its massive screening program on Tuesday to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and restore the normal lives of residents. A total of 141 community testing centers have been put into operation across Hong Kong. (Photo: Xinhua)

HONG KONG -- Senior officials of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government said Sunday that the health code system will be introduced once the epidemic is brought under control to facilitate travels and economic activities in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao.

In response to some district council members' motions to permanently shelve the ongoing Universal Community Testing Program (UCTP) and the health code system, the Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the act was clearly putting politics over the public health.

The UCTP was launched on Sept 1 and by 10:00 pm Saturday, about 1.07 million residents had registered for the testing.

Cheung said after considering the operation and the public's needs, the one-week program has been extended for four days to Sept 11, and another three days if necessary.

Over 600,000 residents have taken the test and some asymptomatic cases identified, which greatly reduced infection risks in communities and likelihood of a resurgence once the economy restarts, Financial Secretary of the HKSAR government Paul Chan Mo-po said in a blog article published on the financial secretary's official website.

Both Cheung and Chan pointed out the importance of innovation and technology to the COVID-19 fight and the post-epidemic development.

Cheung said the application of information and communication technology has played an extremely important role in helping all trades and industries to create a way out, survive the epidemic and turn crises into opportunities.

Chan said innovation and technology are important to Hong Kong's future economy and the overall social interests, adding that the HKSAR government will continue to invest resources, firmly promote the development of science and technology, and strive to create more space for Hong Kong's economy.