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The secretary for the civil service, Patrick Nip, speaking at a press conference, also said the government was in talks with financial institutions, tertiary schools and theme parks to set up innoculation centres for staff to ramp up the vaccination rate.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said at the briefing she had already sent letters to more than 100 firms urging them to follow in the footsteps of the government’s measures.
“From now until the end of August is a crucial time for pandemic prevention,” Lam said. “We’re kicking off the ‘Early Vaccination for All’ campaign today to boost the vaccination rate, in order to achieve herd immunity.”
Health secretary Sophia Chan joined her colleagues’ calls for people to get vaccinated, warning that if another wave of coronavirus sweeps the territory those who have not been innoculated could face more restrictions.
More than 2.3 million coronavirus vaccines have been administered in Hong Kong, with the lacklustre rate resulting in a surplus of doses that are due to expire as soon as August.
Roughly 21% of the population aged 16 and above has had at least one dose, Lam said. The latest move comes as some businesses have already announced steps to lure a hesitant public, with Sino Group, Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation and Chinese Estates Holdings dangling a new flat worth HK$10.8m (£1.0m) as the top prize in a vaccine lottery.
The government has also relaxed some coronavirus rules for vaccinated people in a bid to encourage innoculations as worries over adverse reactions and a lack of confidence in the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine hamper the vaccination rate.
Hong Kong offers both Sinovac and Germany’s BioNTech vaccines and residents can choose.
The global financial hub has kept Covid-19 transmission largely under control, recording more than 11,800 cases and 210 deaths, much lower than many other developed cities.
While life in Hong Kong has largely returned to normal with schools reopened and restaurants and shopping malls full, the government still limits gatherings outside to no more than four people.
Critics of the rules say they are aimed at preventing a repeat of anti-government street protests that rocked the former British colony in 2019.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Coronavirus live news: Japan mulls tests for Olympics fans; India posts lowest case numbers since April | World news