Hong Kong to Scrap Covid-19 Test for International Travellers

Published: December 28,2022 01:49 PM

Story highlights

Hong Kong on Wednesday announced it will scrap the mandatory COVID-19 test for international travellers

December 28, 2022: Hong Kong on Wednesday announced it will scrap the mandatory COVID-19 test for international travellers, Reuters reported citing local broadcaster TVB.

Hong Kong also said that the city's pass required to enter most venues would also be scrapped.

Hong Kong leader John Lee is expected to make an official announcement today at 3:30 pm (0730 GMT), according to Reuters.

The expected announcement comes after Lee said on Saturday that Hong Kong would reopen its borders with mainland China by mid-January.

This comes two days after China announced an end to the coronavirus quarantine rule for inbound travellers from January 8, reported Reuters.

The National Health Commission scrapped the rule which had been in place since the start of the pandemic three years ago.

China's management of COVID-19 will also be downgraded to the less strict Category B from the current top-level Category A, the health authority said in a statement.

However, travellers will still require a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to enter the country, reported Reuters.

Further, the National Health Commission also stopped announcing daily Covid-19 cases on Sunday, and passed the baton to a disease control agency, a practice more in line with the management of lower-level infectious diseases.

Authorities will also no longer refer to Covid-19 as a form of pneumonia.

While Covid-19 has always been a category B infectious disease in China – a class that also includes HIV, viral hepatitis, and H7N9 bird flu – authorities have managed it as category A, empowering local governments to impose strong measures such as lockdowns, isolation, and quarantine, reported Reuters.

It also allows them to enlist law enforcement to aid with disease control.

Although the covid-19 cases are increasing, China still decided to scrap the mandatory requirements for international travelers.

In particular, starting from November 24, restrictive measures were tightened in a number of China's major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

Against this background, some Chinese cities -- Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Wuhan, and others -- were hit by mass protests. The rioters demanded the immediate lifting of lockdowns, the abolition of regular PCR testing, and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

On Friday, media reported that about 37 million people in China could have contracted COVID-19 on a single day last week, making the country's outbreak the largest in the world. It was noted that up to 248 million people, or nearly 18 per cent of the population, were likely to have contracted the coronavirus in the first 20 days of December, Radio Free Asia reported.

Meanwhile, there is a shortage of medicine, as Covid rips through parts of China, millions are struggling to find treatment - from the most basic cold remedies to take at home to more powerful antivirals for patients in hospitals.