Multiple cities offer cash reward for reports of illegal border crossings from HK following Zhuhai's 100,000-yuan reward amid epidemic concerns
Published: Feb 18, 2022 02:00 PM
Hong Kong residents line up to take nucleic acid tests on February 15, 2022. Photo: CFP

Hong Kong residents line up to take nucleic acid tests on February 15, 2022. Photo: CFP

Multiple Chinese mainland cities, including Zhuhai, Huizhou and Dongguan in South China's Guangdong Province, have announced cash rewards for people who report suspected illegal crossings from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), which is being struck by a severe fifth wave of the epidemic, with fear of spillover into mainland cities.  

Zhuhai and Dongguan have put in place a cash reward capped at 100,000 yuan ($15,785) for tip-offs for suspected smuggling by vehicle or boat. The reward for reporting people smugglers is 30,000 yuan and 10,000 yuan for individuals illegally crossing the border , according to official notices. 

Chenzhou in Central China's Hunan and Nan'an in East China's Fujian also released similar notices against the backdrop of five confirmed COVID-19 cases being found among 15 who were smuggled from Hong Kong to the mainland via Zhuhai by boat on February 14. Upon arrival in Zhuhai, some travelled to other mainland cities, leading to flare-ups -- two in Chenzhou, two in Guangzhou and one in Shanghai. 

The Shanghai patient, a mainland resident who had been living in Hong Kong, and travelled from Zhuhai to Shanghai by high-speed train and was criminally detained for violating epidemic prevention rules. 

Zhuhai was among the earliest to reward the reporting of illegal crossings and on Tuesday cracked a group of 10 who had been trying to enter the mainland via a motor boat, local media reported. The person who noticed and reported the suspicious activity received a 100,000 yuan  reward. 

The Global Times learned from a Zhuhai resident who requested anonymity that though Shenzhou directly borders Hong Kong, both land and water borders were being tightly monitored amid the epidemic and nearby Zhuhai presented a better option for smugglers to escape control measures. 

Hong Kong is fighting a tough battle against its fifth wave dominated by Omicron variant. The SAR on Thursday registered 6,116 confirmed patients and 6,300 primary cases, a record high. So far one port in Shenzhen is open for personnel passing with Hong Kong and quarantine facilities are running at full capacity. 

But Zhuang Shilihe, a Guangzhou-based immunologist, told the Global Times on Friday that the five Hong Kong-related infections won't threaten the general epidemic control situation in the mainland. 

A few more transmissions are possible, but considering they have been traced and quarantined, and the mainland has rich experience in epidemiological investigations and quick mass tests, the risks of an extensive outbreak are very low, Zhuang said.