Former HK security secretary advocates introducing health code to city

By Chen Qingqing and Bai Yunyi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/20 16:14:26


Chinese passengers from Diamond Princess cruise ship receive their air tickets at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Japan, February 20, 2020. The first chartered flight arranged by China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government arrived in Hong Kong, bringing 106 Hong Kong residents stranded on the novel coronavirus-inflicted Diamond Princess cruise ship back from Japan. Photo: Xinhua

Hong Kong could learn from the Chinese mainland and introduce color health codes to monitor residents' health in order to allow movement during the COVID-19 epidemic and share relevant information with the mainland to ease border controls, said a political adviser on Wednesday. 

Lai Tung-kwok, a former secretary for security of the Hong Kong government and member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, told the Global Times. 

This comes after Hong Kong Special Administration Region (HKSAR) government Health Secretary Sophia Chan earlier suggested that the SAR is discussing mutual recognition of quarantine measures and virus testing for COVID-19 with adjacent Guangdong Province and Macao SAR, according to media reports. 

Some sources close to the matter suggested that border controls would be further eased by June, with relaxed customs prevention and control measures, allowing some citizens to be exempted from 14-day entry quarantine. 

The health code used on smartphones in the mainland is very convenient, and helps track confirmed patients and their close contacts, Lai said, noting that as many Hong Kong residents need to travel to the mainland for business and vice versa, the opening of land borders will require cautious arrangements to ensure health and safety of people on both sides. 

"I think it's a good direction to promote health codes in Hong Kong," he said, suggesting that the HKSAR government might consider mutual recognition of code information with the mainland when it is ready. 

The health code has been an important part of strict prevention and control measures for the Chinese mainland while reopening its economy, which includes personal information such as identity, travel history and location of residence. When citizens show a green health code on their smartphones, they can prove that they have not been exposed to COVID-19. 

Hong Kong residents have not used such health codes in monitoring people's movements during the epidemic, Victor Chan, a local resident in Hong Kong, told the Global Times on Wednesday, raising concerns that pan-democratic groups would hype the matter as it would mean sharing some of local residents' information with the mainland, a move seen as an intrusion on their privacy.  

However, such a proposal has not been officially discussed yet, according to Lai, so there is no concrete process for coming up with a detailed plan. 

"I support sharing information with the mainland, as long as the plan protects personal privacy," Witman Hung Wai-man, who is a National People's Congress deputy from Hong Kong, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 


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