Hong Kong will no longer impose compulsory quarantine orders on Covid-19 patients from January 30, Chief Executive John Lee announced at the legislature on Thursday.
The decision was made after considering a number of factors, including a “sturdy” level of hybrid immunity in society, as well as the lowered risk imposed to public health by the virus, said Lee.
He added that resuming quarantine-free travel with mainland China had also not led to a significant increase in infections, and that the number of cases had decreased by 90 per cent from the height of around 30,000 cases to 3,000 cases on Wednesday.
Further details will be announced at a Health Bureau press conference on Thursday afternoon, Lee said.
Currently, Covid-19 patients can leave quarantine after testing negative on the fourth and fifth day after testing positive. While the city once required all Covid-19 patients to be isolated at government facilities, they can now quarantine at home.
The government’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic had to evolve to a new stage and a new mode, the chief executive said, as the capability of society and citizens to deal with the virus had increased significantly.
“As the majority of cases are mild, the handling of the pandemic should move from a blanket mandatory [requirement] from the government to citizens deciding for themselves and taking responsibility,” said Lee.
The chief executive said that a new norm will be established step-by-step, where Covid-19 will be treated as an upper respiratory disease.
Hong Kong reported 3,793 Covid-19 infections and 56 deaths on Wednesday. The city has recorded 2,884,006 cases and 12,965 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic almost three years ago.