Editorial:An online platform for the GBA is urgently called for

【明報專訊】Recently, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen have all experienced a new wave of COVID-19 cases caused by viruses coming from abroad. The three cities have adopted different approaches in response to the cases based on their own conditions. Even if they might not be able to imitate each other's responses, they can at least start by sharing virus information and take the opportunity to set up a Greater Bay Area (GBA) pandemic information platform to exchange information so that governments and the public can all stay informed about the situation within and without their territories.

The pandemic situation is the most serious in Guangzhou. Through a ''dim sum'' cluster in Liwan District, the virus has spread to many other districts. The alert levels of two sub-districts in Liwan have been raised to ''high-risk''. Yesterday (June 6), four other districts became medium-risk areas, while a family of six living in Nansha District have all caught the disease. The chain of transmission has even extended to Foshan, three sub-districts of which have become medium-risk areas. There have also been cases of infection in Zhanjiang and Maoming. In the entire province, the total number of infections is almost 100.

The pandemic situation in Shenzhen is relatively mild. Some dock workers have contracted the virus on cargo ships, and so far, there have been 15 cases of asymptomatic infection. Fortunately, these cases are only confined to Yantian and Longgang districts, which are in the suburbs, and the chains of transmission have been identified. Still, these cases have given citizens a fright.

Hong Kong has just declared that the fourth wave of infections has come to an end. However, the fifth wave has begun to creep in, since a mother and two daughters have been diagnosed or initially diagnosed with COVID-19. As they have been to the community, there are a lot of uncertainties concerning the future development of the pandemic.

The latest pandemic situations in the three cities have been caused by different factors, and the responses have been extremely varied. The Guangzhou authorities have stuck to their original game plan by locking down districts, limiting the movement of people, and conducting mandatory testing to identify potential spreaders of the virus. However, as the Indian variant is highly transmissible and has a shorter incubation period, the Guangzhou authorities have stepped up their contingency measures. The scope of mandatory testing has been expanded continuously from Liwan District to its neighbouring districts to all of the 11 districts in the entire Guangzhou Province. Apart from the orthodox measure of organising the residents of different districts to get them tested on-site, electronic means have also been employed. Those who have stayed near a risky zone or in a place where a patient has been to for more than 20 minutes will have yellow health codes. They must then take a nucleic acid test within 72 hours and get a negative report for their health code to return to green, otherwise their travel will be restricted.

Despite the many similarities between Guangdong and Hong Kong in the recent wave of cases, the measures they have adopted are different. After all, it is impossible to expect them to adopt the same measures. Still, it is possible and not very difficult for the two regions to exchange information in a timely manner. Why do they not create an online platform that offers explanations and conversions for the different methodologies for calculating cases and the technical terms, one that publishes the latest developments and information concerning transportation and others in a timely fashion? For the different municipal governments in the GBA, the platform will enable them to share anti-pandemic measures. For ordinary citizens, the platform will let them get hold of useful travel information. The platform will surely do immeasurable good if it facilitates the integration of the GBA.

明報社評 2021.06.07:港穗深控疫方法各異 急需大灣區分享平台







■/ Glossary / 生字 /

fright /fraɪt/

an experience that makes you feel fear

creep in:to begin to happen or affect sth

incubation /ˌɪŋkjuˈbeɪʃn/

the time between sb being infected with a disease and the appearance of the first symptoms


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