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Covid patients no longer need to quarantine in Hong Kong

HONG KONG - Hong Kong said it will no longer require people infected with Covid-19 to quarantine from Jan 30, removing one of the last major coronavirus restrictions in place in the Asian financial hub. 

The scrapping of the isolation requirements is part of a decision to downgrade Covid-19’s status to an endemic disease from a severe respiratory disease and follows a similar move by China on Jan 8. 

This leaves just the mask mandate as the only major curb left from the city’s zero-Covid days.

“I have decided to scrap the quarantine order for Covid-infected patients. This is one of the important steps towards normalcy,” city leader John Lee told a legislative meeting on Thursday. 

Hong Kong gave up other restrictions in December after China abandoned its strict approach to controlling the virus.

People in Hong Kong are, however, still required to wear masks unless exercising. 

However, the city’s government is planning to end mandatory mask wearing in March or April, Ming Pao reported, citing unidentified people. 

Mr Lee said the city has a “very sound barrier of immunity” and Covid-19 will be managed like any other upper respiratory disease. 

“Our understanding of Covid-19 and how to deal with it has been greatly enhanced,” Mr Lee said. “As a result, the government’s management approach will have to change.”

The health bureau will hold a briefing later Thursday to give further details, he said. 

Hong Kong is planning an aggressive publicity campaign to showcase its strengths to the world as well as hold a series of events, Mr Lee said. 

Natixis SA estimates Hong Kong’s economy lost US$27 billion (S$35.71 billion) in potential growth due to the effects of the pandemic and the city’s strict Covid-19 curbs. - BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

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