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Coronavirus: 5-11 age group set to be included in Hong Kong vaccine pass scheme, civil service chief confirms

Hong Kong’s civil service chief has confirmed officials are hatching plans to include children aged five years to 11 in the city’s Covid-19 vaccine pass scheme, while also revealing that a major NGO will join government efforts to boost the vaccination rate among the elderly.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Secretary for the Civil Service Ingrid Yeung Ho Poi-yan commented on media reports that said five- to 11-year-olds would soon need to get inoculated with two Covid-19 vaccine doses to dine out and visit most business premises under an expanded vaccine pass scheme.

“As for lowering the vaccination age threshold for the vaccine pass, we will consider all measures that can boost the vaccination rate, the relevant department is considering that measure,” said Yeung, who is in charge of the city’s inoculation drive.

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With local Covid-19 cases surging again lately, Yeung also announced that 32 more private clinics would offer coronavirus vaccination services, with half offering Sinovac shots and the other half BioNTech jabs.

Yeung also revealed that the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association, operator of a popular 24-hour “safety phone” call service for the elderly, would help to contact its users and urge them to get vaccinated.

“We believe NGOs that are often seen by the elderly as reliable and trusted partners can help convince them of the importance of vaccination and remove some of their doubts,” Yeung said.

She said about 30 per cent of those aged over 80 were still unvaccinated. For children between the age of six months and three years, the take-up rate of the Sinovac vaccine, which became available to them four weeks ago, was just over 11 per cent.

“I hope through these different channels, family members, neighbours and the community can all persuade one another to get vaccinated,” Yeung said.

Meanwhile, the sport commissioner expressed confidence that the Hong Kong Sevens rugby competition could proceed as scheduled in November.

The city’s flagship sporting event is set to take place from November 4 to 6 at Hong Kong Stadium for the first time since April 2019.

Sports commissioner Yeung Tak-keung said on Thursday morning that the authorities had made every effort to finalise details of the Sevens with the Hong Kong Rugby Union.

With the Sun Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong 10K Championships cancelled last week at short notice and the 2023 World Dragon Boat Racing Championships possibly being moved to Thailand, rugby fans expressed concerns about the Sevens.

“We have discussed the epidemic prevention regulations with the Rugby Union. With international players managed under a closed-loop hotel system, the venue limited to 85 per cent capacity, masks-on rule and vaccine pass among the audience, I’m confident the event will proceed as scheduled,” Yeung told a radio programme.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po earlier said the government must spare no effort to facilitate the event, to show the vitality of Hong Kong.

Chan has targeted November as an important time in the city’s emergence from its Covid-19 restrictions, with a high-profile financial summit involving some of the world’s top business leaders planned.

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