Hong Kong must not “lie flat” in tackling the Covid crisis, said the city’s new Chief Executive John Lee, reiterating mainland China rebuffing the “living with the virus” stance.

During his first question-and-answer session at Hong Kong’s Legislative Council on Wednesday, Lee commented: “Regarding anti-epidemic strategies, I do not agree with lying flat, allowing infection numbers to increase arbitrarily, as there will be risks of serious and fatal case numbers increasing proportionally.”

Lee added that Hong Kong needs to secure early detection, isolation and treatment of cases to stop the daily infection rate increasing. It currently stands at around 2,000 a day.

However, he ruled out returning to strict travel restrictions aimed at keeping out the virus. Previously there was a 21-day hotel quarantine rule on people arriving into the city, yet this has been reduced to seven, Bloomberg reports.

Since taking office last Friday, Lee hasn’t unveiled any Covid policies, stating that health officials are currently “reviewing statistics” to determine what is viable.

Nevertheless, Lee’s rhetoric during his question-and-answer session echoed President Xi Jinping, who said “herd immunity” and “lying flat” strategies would put too many lives at risk.

One of the principal concerns for Hong Kong lawmakers is the border reopening, with many requesting a clear roadmap from the government to resume travel with mainland China and other countries.

However, the Chief Executive said the approach adopted should ensure there are no risks that would increase mainland China’s difficulties in handling the pandemic, Global Times reports.

The city’s Health Secretary Lo Chung-mau said earlier this week that he hopes the border will reopen between Hong Kong and the mainland by 4th August, stating containing the situation in the city and reducing community transmission is crucial for border reopening.

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