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Over 3.1k virus cases identified

The Centre for Health Protection today said it is investigating 3,172 additional locally acquired COVID-19 cases, of which 449 were identified through nucleic acid tests and 2,723 via rapid antigen tests.   Separately, 111 imported cases were detected.   Furthermore, seven residential care homes for the elderly and five for disabled people logged 13 cases involving their residents.   The Hospital Authority reported that 20 patients passed away in public hospitals. According to a preliminary analysis, the cause of death for nine patients was related to COVID-19, while that of the remaining 11 patients was unrelated.   It also registered eight more critical cases, bringing the number of patients in critical condition to 93.   Separately, to align with the Government’s cancellation of issuing isolation orders from tomorrow, the authority will, starting from the same day, announce at 8.30am and 1pm the information of general out-patient clinics (GOPC) quota reserved for COVID-19

Travel scheme to be extended

(To watch the full press conference with sign language interpretation, click here.)   The Government today announced the Return2hk Scheme will be extended from Guangdong Province and Macau to other Mainland provinces and municipalities.   Starting from April 29, Hong Kong residents not having stayed in places other than Hong Kong, the Mainland or Macau, or any places in the Mainland designated as medium and high-risk in the past 14 days before arriving in Hong Kong can be exempted from the 14-day compulsory quarantine requirement.   The online booking system for the scheme will be open for applications by Hong Kong residents who plan to return from the Mainland through the Hong Kong International Airport from April 27.   To ensure Hong Kong residents return to the city under the scheme in a gradual and orderly manner to avoid increased public health risks at overcrowded airport and ports, a quota arrangement will still be in place under the extended scheme.   A daily quota of 1,000 has been set for the airport, while those for the land boundary control points of the Shenzhen Bay Port and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) Hong Kong Port will remain unchanged.   They are 3,000 per day for the Shenzhen Bay Port and 2,000 each day for the HZMB Hong Kong Port.    Additionally, the Come2hk Scheme, to be launched in mid-May, will facilitate non-Hong Kong residents staying in Guangdong and Macau to come to Hong Kong without being subject to compulsory quarantine requirements upon fulfilment of specified conditions.   Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip announced the details of the Return2hk Scheme’s extension at a press conference this morning.   Mr Nip also said the Government is discussing the possibility of exempting Hong Kong citizens entering the Mainland from quarantine requirements with Mainland authorities.   He said: "I’m sure that everyone in Hong Kong would like to see the early opening of travel between the Mainland and Hong Kong.   “In the eyes of the Mainland authorities, I’m sure that they would look at Hong Kong, whether Hong Kong is, in their classification, still a high-risk area or medium-risk area. As long as we are still considered a medium or high-risk area, I’m sure that we would be far from achieving that.   “So these are the areas we have to work very hard on: to put our epidemic situation under control, reduce our number of confirmed cases to zero or near zero, get rid of all unlinked cases, and also achieve a high level of vaccination rate. I think these are the things, the priority areas, that we must work hard on.”
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