The Covid vaccination center in Yuen Long
(Yes, in better times, it's actually a sports center!)
Late last night, there came the following piece of news: As reported by Hong Kong's official government broadcaster RTHK, "The government has announced that from Saturday [i.e., today], all incoming travellers – regardless of where they are from – will be required to at least be double-jabbed to be issued a temporary vaccine pass that is needed to enter most public premises."
Well, well, well... it seems that after the bombshell revelation by Chief Executive John Lee on Tuesday that people from Mainland China and Macau were allowed to enter Hong Kong and being issued with vaccine passes wthout having been vaccinated (unlike people coming in from other territories and actual Hong Kong residents who have been in Hong Kong throughout the pandemic), we have this: a rare reversal of policy/climb down by the Hong Kong government! Specifically: “The temporary vaccine pass arrangement [now] applies to all arrivals, including Hong Kong residents and non-Hong Kong residents, as well as travellers from the mainland, Macau, Taiwan and overseas areas,” a government spokesperson said".
Quoting again from the RTHK report: "Chief Executive John Lee had on Tuesday explained that mainlanders weren't required to be vaccinated to come to Hong Kong because the infection risk on the mainland is the lowest in the world. But critics [including yours truly!] said the same vaccination requirements should apply to all arrivals because granting exemptions could give people the wrong impression and raise questions about differential treatment."
With regards to the reason given by John Lee for why people from Mainland China weren't required to be vaccinated before coming to Hong Kong: This is a bit rich given where the Wuhan coronavirus was first detected and spread out from; and the notorious dubiousness of official Mainland Chinese statistics (including pertaining to Covid pretty much from the get go)! But, then, as Tim Hamlett pointed out today, Hong Kong's Covid statistics also aren't necessarily all that reliable any more too!
This is down to a number of factors that really come across as own goals by the Hong Kong government. Also, to be sure, "In the early days of the [pandemic,] anyone who thought they had Covid rushed immediately to the nearest doctor – or if they couldn’t afford a doctor, to the nearest Accident and Emergency Department. Doctors and hospitals were required to report cases of Covid to the authorities. So if we were told there were 1,000 new Covid cases yesterday this was probably – give or take the odd case with no symptoms and the odd false positive – the actual figure."
Nowadays, however, many people no longer report their rush to see a doctor -- or make a point to report their having tested positive for Covid. As Hamlett put it: "Hong Kong people are traditionally self-reliant. The consensus is now that your ordinarily healthy citizen who has had four jabs of the good stuff will either not get Covid or will get the harmless version. The ailment is no longer a public problem. We can handle it ourselves."
And lest it not be clear: "My point is not that the official figure is too low. My point is that it is worthless. It could be too high, though that seems unlikely, or it could be too low. Covid has ceased to be a disease which is routinely reported, so we have no reliable way of knowing how prevalent it now is"!
Some other things that should not need to be stated but are in the article, so I'm going ahead and quoting the relevant portion of the think piece for the record: "There is no Chinese medicine, traditional or otherwise, that has any demonstrable effect on Covid. The limits on gatherings – 500 for marathons, eight for dinners, four for political protests – make no sense. Too many top, and not-so-top, people seem to be exempt from all restrictions." Oh, and the Hong Kong government's handling of Covid seems "to be out of step with the rest of the world, bewilderingly changeable, and prone to political pollution"!