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Government urges citizens to continue taking anti-epidemic measures vigilantly
     The Government strongly urged citizens today (June 5) to stay on guard and continue taking anti-epidemic measures vigilantly. While the fifth wave of the epidemic has been substantially contained with daily new cases drastically decreased from tens of thousands during the peak in early March to several hundreds in recent days, a Government spokesman reminded citizens not to overlook the risk of epidemic rebound following the gradual resumption of social and economic activities.
     In view of the more frequent traffic and social activities recently, citizens should not lower their guard even when the emergence of individual infection clusters is expected and various epidemiological monitoring indicators have remained stable in Hong Kong. As multiple cases have been detected in certain catering premises and bars/pubs, law enforcement departments, including the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) and the Police, have stepped up inspections to ensure that persons-in-charge, staff and patrons of catering premises comply with the prevailing anti-epidemic directions with a view to minimising the transmission risk in the community. In particular, the FEHD and the Police inspected more than 1 200 catering premises (including bars/pubs) and other premises on June 2 and 3, and initiated prosecutions for cases suspected of breaching the requirements under the directions (see FEHD's press release).
     The Government reminded all persons-in-charge of catering premises and bars/pubs to put up a notice in accordance with the Vaccine Pass requirement, and use the latest "QR Code Verification Scanner" mobile application to scan the QR code of a patron’s vaccination record, medical exemption certificate or recovery record. All patrons must scan the "LeaveHomeSafe" venue QR code using the "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile application on their mobile phones/other mobile devices before entering the premises (excluding persons who only order takeaway).
     Receiving COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective in preventing severe cases and deaths, enabling resumption of normal daily life as early as possible. Among the cases reported during the fifth wave, the proportion of infected persons who have received three doses of vaccine, regardless of their age, is considerably lower in critical/serious and deceased cases. Furthermore, in order to reduce the transmission risk brought by the relaxation of social distancing measures, the basic requirement for ordinary persons to enter premises applicable to Vaccine Pass, except for scenarios with exemption, has been raised to having received three doses of COVID-19 vaccine with effect from May 31 (see implementation arrangements for Vaccine Pass for details).
     As the antibody level in human body would drop after a period of time from vaccination or infection, the Government urged citizens aged 60 or above to receive the fourth dose of vaccine in a timely manner. Other citizens should also take the opportunity to receive a full course with three doses of vaccine as early as possible during this epidemic lull. Parents should arrange their children to get vaccinated early, which would allow them to gain adequate protection and safely enjoy school life. Staff in key premises and organisations (such as care workers for the elderly in residential care homes) should also actively seek to become vaccinated in order to protect themselves and others.
     In addition, truthful declaration of positive test results will help citizens to receive early support and the Government to track case trends. This is essential for guarding against a potential epidemic rebound in future. Since late April, all citizens who reported their cases through the "Declaration System for individuals tested positive for COVID-19 using Rapid Antigen Test" have been required to undergo nucleic acid test by the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health when testing capacity permits.
     Cases confirmed to be negative by the nucleic acid test will be deleted from the confirmed case record. The relevant persons will also no longer be able to use the quarantine orders issued by the Government, recovery QR code records or any other relevant documents as a proof of recovery. According to the Prevention and Control of Disease (Disclosure of Information) Regulation (Cap. 599D), it is a criminal offence for any person to provide false or misleading information to a health officer or an authorised officer. Offenders are liable to a fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for six months. As at June 3, the CHP has found six persons suspected of deliberately providing false information and referred the cases to the Police for follow-up. Among them, three persons were arrested, and the Police will consider taking appropriate law enforcement actions against the remaining persons. The Government reminded citizens not to report false cases information and break the law.
     As new COVID-19 variants have emerged in overseas territories, the Government will closely monitor the developments to avoid them from spreading into the local community. In order to protect the health conditions of inbound travellers and guard against importation of cases, the Government will continue to implement the Designated Quarantine Hotel Scheme and review the infection control measures of designated quarantine hotels to ensure that ventilation and workflow of these hotels can meet the standard.
     The spokesman said, "It is indispensable for citizens to continue adhering to anti-epidemic measures so that Hong Kong may build a stronger protection barrier against the virus. We call on different sectors of the community to join our efforts in protecting public health, thereby enabling Hong Kong to make steady strides along the path to normalcy."
Ends/Sunday, June 5, 2022
Issued at HKT 11:35
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