China opens border: Hong Kongers fear new corona wave

Status: 06.01.2023 11:25 a.m

At the China opens the border to Hong Kong on Sunday. It was effectively closed for nearly three years because of China’s zero-Covid policy. Many Hong Kongers look at the border with concern – and storm the vaccination centers.

By Eva Lamby-Schmitt, ARD Studio Shanghai

Many people are queuing in front of the vaccination centers in Hong Kong. They would like to be vaccinated against Corona quickly, many for the fourth time.

A few weeks ago the vaccination centers were quite empty, but now, shortly before the border to mainland China is reopened, the vaccination appointments in the centers are partly fully booked until February. In view of the high number of infections in China, some Hong Kongers fear a new wave of corona infections.

Coco Chan is one of them. “I’m one of the few who haven’t tested positive yet and got my fourth vaccination a few days ago. I hope I won’t get infected.” Her friends would also take protective measures and buy medicine as a precaution.

drugs hard to come by

Medicines are now difficult to obtain in the Chinese special administrative region, reports 75-year-old Annie Au.

I can’t buy any fever and painkillers in the pharmacy at the moment. The only way is to get them directly from the doctor. I stood in line for a long time there. The pharmacies are empty because everyone is panicking and buying medicine.

Like most with whom the ARD radio was able to speak in Hong Kong, she has already received four vaccinations against Corona. Hong Kong authorities said the number of those who received a fourth vaccination increased by more than 100 percent compared to the previous week.

“I think it’s good that the borders are opening.”

While some in Hong Kong are worried, others are looking forward to the opening. Because many families in the commuter region were separated from each other.

Lexie Yang, for example, comes from mainland China but is studying in Hong Kong. “I think it’s good that the borders are opening, because then I can go home and my family can come visit me in Hong Kong. We already have plans for Chinese New Year in two weeks.”

For almost three years, China’s strict zero-Covid policy made it nearly impossible to get from Hong Kong to mainland China. There were few and very expensive flights to mainland China and a lottery where up to 2,000 people could win tickets to get to China overland every day.

There are said to be significantly more flights between Hong Kong and mainland China.

Image: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

More ways to travel to China

There was also a limited quota because travelers from Hong Kong also had to be accommodated in a hotel for an entry quarantine that sometimes lasted several weeks. Appropriate hotel rooms were needed for this. The quarantine will no longer apply due to China’s travel facilitation, which is due to come into force on Sunday.

The Hong Kong government has announced that there will be more travel opportunities to mainland China from Sunday. Two land routes are to be reopened. The ferry between Hong Kong and the gambling metropolis Macau is said to be running again.

And there should be significantly more flights. Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific Airways has said it will more than double its flights to mainland China. Up to 60,000 travelers from Hong Kong should be able to cross the border to mainland China every day.

Hong Kongers concerned about reopening of mainland China border

Eva Lamby-Schmitt, ARD Shanghai, 6.1.2023 09:52 a.m

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