英文

Editorial:Despite end of caseless run, the opening of border should remain the goal

【明報專訊】Yesterday (July 11) Hong Kong logged a new local confirmed COVID-19 case of unknown origin, meaning that its caseless streak, this time a 35-day one, has been broken again and the hope of the opening of the border with mainland China may have to be delayed further.

The latest person infected with the COVID-19 virus is an airport porter. How he got infected and the genomic sequence of the virus need to be further investigated. Although the person does not know and did not come into contact with the airport ground staffer infected on June 27, the airport is, after all, an inevitable corridor for imported cases, and it is impossible to avoid all related circumstantial risks. Questions such as how anti-pandemic measures should be strengthened and whether airport staff should be required to get vaccinated as soon as possible should not be taken lightly. After 35 days of no local confirmed cases, a new one has emerged. Compulsory quarantine of the close contacts of those infected and compulsory virus tests for citizens who have been at the same public venue during the same period of time with the confirmed patient are established procedures that are believed to be able to break the chains of community transmission in the quickest way. But after all, they bring worries about a new wave of infections.

It is believed that the recurrence of local infections, the source of which is still unknown, will affect the negotiations between Hong Kong and the mainland on the reopening of the border. However, outsiders will not know how much impact this will have. They cannot conjecture what conditions have been proposed by the Guangdong authorities for the reopening of the border with Hong Kong, but there are two points worth noting. First, the latest outbreak in Guangzhou has affected areas including Foshan, Shenzhen and Dongguan and has led to more than 160 cases in total. Guangdong's measures to deal with the pandemic have been unprecedentedly stringent, and through the adoption of accurate measures the province has completely controlled the outbreak within only one month. This ''Guangdong doctrine'' is a textbook example of successful anti-pandemic control and such hard-won results will be very much treasured by the Guangdong authorities, who will not easily let any potential risks go unaddressed. The reopening of the border with Hong Kong does pose certain risks. On the other hand, Hong Kong has its own set of pandemic restrictions for foreign tourists. For example, if passengers from Australia and New Zealand are vaccinated, the compulsory quarantine period will be reduced from 14 days to seven days. Although Hong Kong's decision was made after rigorous scientific evaluation, Guangdong Province may not know the basis of the decision and its possible ramifications, and might thus be sceptical about it.

Although another local confirmed case has appeared and that might add another hurdle in reopening our border with mainland China, we must take the initiative and try every means to overcome this obstacle, however difficult it might be. The SAR government can write a report to the central government and present its request, but at the same time it must strengthen communication with Guangdong Province so that the two sides can understand each other's concerns and thoughts. Similarly, the Guangdong authorities should also increase transparency and put forward clear conditions for the reopening of the border. Both parties should find common ground so that Guangdong and Hong Kong can work towards the same goal and achieve the reopening of the border as soon as possible. Otherwise, Guangdong's and Hong Kong's development, as well as that of the Greater Bay Area and other major national strategies, will be out of the question.

明報社評 2021.07.12:清零紀錄斷纜 通關仍是目標

昨天新增一宗本地源頭不明確診病例,連續35天本地零確診紀錄又再「斷纜」,與內地通關的希望可能又要再一次「重新出發」。

最新一名感染患者是機場搬運工人,其感染渠道和感染病毒的基因排序尚待進一步查核。雖然跟上月27日感染的機場地勤人員不相識也沒有接觸,但機場作為輸入個案必經之地,環境風險防不勝防,防疫措施如何加強,機場工作人員是否應該強制要求盡快接種疫苗,都不能掉以輕心。經過35天的本土零確診後,又再出現本土病例,對於密切接觸者的強制檢疫,以及在相同時間曾經去過患者到過的公共處所的市民,要求強制檢測,這些既定程序相信可以盡快截斷社區傳播的途徑,但畢竟又帶來新一波的擔憂。

再次出現本土感染,且至今源頭不明,相信會影響香港跟內地通關的談判,但究竟會有多大影響,外界無從得知。外界無法猜度廣東省方面提出的跟香港通關條件,但有兩點值得注意,一是廣州最新的一次疫情,波及地區包括佛山、深圳和東莞,共有160多個病例。廣東省對付疫情的措施,是前所未有的嚴厲,並且採用精準手段,只用了一個月時間徹底控制住疫情,形成了一個「廣州打法」的範例,這得來不易的成果,相信廣東會倍加珍惜,不會輕易放過任何潛在風險,跟香港通關,確實存在一定風險。另一方面,香港對於外來旅客的防疫限制,自成一套,比如對澳洲、新西蘭的旅客,如果接種了疫苗,強制檢疫從14天降到7天。香港這決定,雖然都是經過嚴格科學評估而作出的,但廣東省未必了解決定的根據以及可能的後果,對此可能會存疑。

雖然又再出現本土確診病例,或許會令跟內地通關增添一道難關,但再難也要主動千方百計邁過這道坎,特區政府可以給中央寫報告提出要求,同時也要跟廣東省加強溝通,了解對方的憂慮與想法,同樣,廣東省政府也應該提高透明度,提出明確的通關條件,雙方找出大家都能接受的條件,讓粵港兩地可以朝着同一個目標努力,盡快實現通關,否則,粵港兩地分別的發展,以至大灣區的發展等國家重大策略,也無從談起。

■/ Glossary 生字 /

recurrence /rɪˈkʌrəns/

if there is a recurrence of sth, it happens again

stringent /ˈstrɪndʒənt/

very strict and that must be obeyed

out of the question:impossible or not allowed and therefore not worth discussing

■英語社評聲檔:link.mingpao.com/53000.htm

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