Experts and netizens called for strict quarantine policies on arrivals from Hong Kong to the mainland to prevent the possible second wave of an outbreak as the region is apparently exempted from the mainland's strict screening system amid a mounting risk of imported cases. 

Hong Kong reported 48 news cases on Friday, of which the majority are returnees from Europe, the new pandemic epicenter; the US; Canada, and Thailand, the Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday. 

The city is facing extreme risk of imported cases, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Friday after taking stock of the screening efforts at the city's local airport. 

All international arrivals to Hong Kong must quarantine for 14 days at homes or designated centers, starting Friday, as mandated by the SAR government. Lam estimated that more overseas Hongkongers are likely to return to the city in the following one or two weeks. 

As an international hub as well as an important gateway to the Chinese mainland, the risk Hong Kong faces is also passed on to the mainland. 

However, although most places in the mainland announced strict measures to prevent and control imported cases, arrivals from are seemingly receiving special treatment, which, some analysts warned, would probably create loopholes on the mainland's anti-pandemic mechanism and trigger a second wave of the outbreak.      

A Hong Kong resident surnamed Liu working in Beijing told the Global Times he was directly allowed entry into Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province, when returning from Malaysia, on Wednesday. 

The Guangzhou customs simply screened his temperature before issuing him health quarantine approval, which stated "the passenger has passed quarantine procedure," according to Liu.  

Guangzhou authority requires arrivals from 19 pandemic-affected countries and regions, including Malaysia, to undergo 14-day quarantine starting Friday. 

The province updated its prevention policies Saturday, making it mandatory for arrivals through Hong Kong to undergo quarantine for 14 days; however, it did not give a clear explanation on how they would deal with those heading to other provinces and regions in the mainland. 

Analysts said the move indicates Guangdong is seeking a way to divert pressure as too many international arrivals come to the province every day requiring quarantine, but by allowing travelers, like Liu, to proceed to other regions, loopholes are left unchecked

Hong Kong has different testing standards to that of the mainland. People entering the mainland from the city should not be exempted from concentrated quarantine amid the dangerous trend of the recent surge in cases in Hong Kong, they noted.

While Hong Kong witnessed the biggest single-day jump in new cases, the Chinese mainland has reported zero domestic cases of infection for the third consecutive,  media reported Saturday. All the new cases reported recently in the mainland are imported cases and the number of such cases on Friday reached 41. Most of these travelers, confirmed with COVID-19, entered the mainland via Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong.  

The aforementioned traveler, Liu, flew to Beijing on Thursday from Guangzhou, thus bypassing the screening procedure in the Chinese capital for international arrivals. He was refused admission to a Beijing hotel for self-quarantine as he did not have a mainland ID number. 

He finally found a designated hotel for quarantine, after accessing a list of such  hotels that he obtained from his residential community in Beijing.

Similar instances have been reported in Shanghai and Shenzhen, another important gateway to the mainland in Guangdong, adjoining Hong Kong. 

According to media reports, Shenzhen authorities issue a direct pass to arrivals from Hong Kong if they claim they have not been abroad in the past 14 days. 

It is time to bring Hong Kong under the ambit of the mandatory quarantine policies, some analysts urged. 

Local governments, which are authorized to frame specific quarantine policies, should put aside the consideration from a political perspective, and act at the earliest so the Chinese mainland's hard-earned achievements in the anti-pandemic fight thrive, analysts said. 

"It has come to a time that we have to do this. Any possible loophole must be plugged and this is the base for us to sustain cross-border traffic," they noted.  

Some experts also suggest strengthened cooperation between Shenzhen and Hong Kong to ward off imported infection risks. The Hong Kong regional government itself may not be able to handle the prevention work associated with the huge influx of international visitors and returnees that is looming large. It needs to cooperate with Shenzhen to jointly manage the situation, they said.

After Hong Kong's mandatory 14-day quarantine policy for international arrivals came into force on Friday, some mainland residents who planned to return home via Hong Kong have sought help on social media platforms, as they are afraid they would not be allowed to leave Hong Kong upon arrival. 

According to media reports, Hong Kong authorities would probably deny boarding to passengers who try to reach the mainland via Hong Kong unless they are taking a connecting flight, which means they would not leave the transit zone after disembarking at the Hong Kong airport. 

Similarly, several Shenzhen locals who planned to return home via the Shenzhen Bay Checkpoint could not leave the airport and pass the checkpoint as predicted. They had to fly to Shanghai or Beijing and transfer for Shenzhen, which further raises the risk of infection. 

Despite concerns and risks, some epidemiologists are confident of the anti-pandemic battle due to sufficient internal cooperation between the mainland cities and the Hong Kong SAR.   

Hong Kong and the mainland have maintained an efficient exchange of data and information on the epidemic, taken unified actions and established joint prevention and control mechanisms, which have been maintained well in previous outbreaks, including SARS in 2003, Yang Gonghuan,  a former vice director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Global Times Saturday.

"If the situation in Hong Kong worsens, the mainland will take emergency measures as soon as possible."


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Fears of second outbreak wave


Experts and netizens called for strict quarantine policies on arrivals from Hong Kong to the mainland to prevent the possible second wave of an outbreak as the region is apparently exempted from the mainland's strict screening system amid a mounting risk of imported cases. 

Hong Kong reported 48 news cases on Friday, of which the majority are returnees from Europe, the new pandemic epicenter; the US; Canada, and Thailand, the Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday. 

The city is facing extreme risk of imported cases, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Friday after taking stock of the screening efforts at the city's local airport. 

All international arrivals to Hong Kong must quarantine for 14 days at homes or designated centers, starting Friday, as mandated by the SAR government. Lam estimated that more overseas Hongkongers are likely to return to the city in the following one or two weeks. 

As an international hub as well as an important gateway to the Chinese mainland, the risk Hong Kong faces is also passed on to the mainland. 

However, although most places in the mainland announced strict measures to prevent and control imported cases, arrivals from are seemingly receiving special treatment, which, some analysts warned, would probably create loopholes on the mainland's anti-pandemic mechanism and trigger a second wave of the outbreak.      

A Hong Kong resident surnamed Liu working in Beijing told the Global Times he was directly allowed entry into Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province, when returning from Malaysia, on Wednesday. 

The Guangzhou customs simply screened his temperature before issuing him health quarantine approval, which stated "the passenger has passed quarantine procedure," according to Liu.  

Guangzhou authority requires arrivals from 19 pandemic-affected countries and regions, including Malaysia, to undergo 14-day quarantine starting Friday. 

The province updated its prevention policies Saturday, making it mandatory for arrivals through Hong Kong to undergo quarantine for 14 days; however, it did not give a clear explanation on how they would deal with those heading to other provinces and regions in the mainland. 

Analysts said the move indicates Guangdong is seeking a way to divert pressure as too many international arrivals come to the province every day requiring quarantine, but by allowing travelers, like Liu, to proceed to other regions, loopholes are left unchecked

Hong Kong has different testing standards to that of the mainland. People entering the mainland from the city should not be exempted from concentrated quarantine amid the dangerous trend of the recent surge in cases in Hong Kong, they noted.

While Hong Kong witnessed the biggest single-day jump in new cases, the Chinese mainland has reported zero domestic cases of infection for the third consecutive,  media reported Saturday. All the new cases reported recently in the mainland are imported cases and the number of such cases on Friday reached 41. Most of these travelers, confirmed with COVID-19, entered the mainland via Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong.  

The aforementioned traveler, Liu, flew to Beijing on Thursday from Guangzhou, thus bypassing the screening procedure in the Chinese capital for international arrivals. He was refused admission to a Beijing hotel for self-quarantine as he did not have a mainland ID number. 

He finally found a designated hotel for quarantine, after accessing a list of such  hotels that he obtained from his residential community in Beijing.

Similar instances have been reported in Shanghai and Shenzhen, another important gateway to the mainland in Guangdong, adjoining Hong Kong. 

According to media reports, Shenzhen authorities issue a direct pass to arrivals from Hong Kong if they claim they have not been abroad in the past 14 days. 

It is time to bring Hong Kong under the ambit of the mandatory quarantine policies, some analysts urged. 

Local governments, which are authorized to frame specific quarantine policies, should put aside the consideration from a political perspective, and act at the earliest so the Chinese mainland's hard-earned achievements in the anti-pandemic fight thrive, analysts said. 

"It has come to a time that we have to do this. Any possible loophole must be plugged and this is the base for us to sustain cross-border traffic," they noted.  

Some experts also suggest strengthened cooperation between Shenzhen and Hong Kong to ward off imported infection risks. The Hong Kong regional government itself may not be able to handle the prevention work associated with the huge influx of international visitors and returnees that is looming large. It needs to cooperate with Shenzhen to jointly manage the situation, they said.

After Hong Kong's mandatory 14-day quarantine policy for international arrivals came into force on Friday, some mainland residents who planned to return home via Hong Kong have sought help on social media platforms, as they are afraid they would not be allowed to leave Hong Kong upon arrival. 

According to media reports, Hong Kong authorities would probably deny boarding to passengers who try to reach the mainland via Hong Kong unless they are taking a connecting flight, which means they would not leave the transit zone after disembarking at the Hong Kong airport. 

Similarly, several Shenzhen locals who planned to return home via the Shenzhen Bay Checkpoint could not leave the airport and pass the checkpoint as predicted. They had to fly to Shanghai or Beijing and transfer for Shenzhen, which further raises the risk of infection. 

Despite concerns and risks, some epidemiologists are confident of the anti-pandemic battle due to sufficient internal cooperation between the mainland cities and the Hong Kong SAR.   

Hong Kong and the mainland have maintained an efficient exchange of data and information on the epidemic, taken unified actions and established joint prevention and control mechanisms, which have been maintained well in previous outbreaks, including SARS in 2003, Yang Gonghuan,  a former vice director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Global Times Saturday.

"If the situation in Hong Kong worsens, the mainland will take emergency measures as soon as possible."


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