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COVID-19 vaccination key to economic recovery: HKSAR gov't officials

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 16:37, April 25, 2021

HONG KONG, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Senior officials of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government on Sunday urged the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in a bid to save the economy from a prolonged recession.

Matthew Cheung, chief secretary for administration of the HKSAR government, said in an online article that epidemic control is crucial to the recovery of the local economy and called on residents to take vaccine jabs and cooperate with anti-epidemic measures.

The government will offer favorable arrangements to those who have taken the vaccine, including easier visits to hospitals, family dinners at restaurants and travel bubble, he said.

Cheung believes a controlled epidemic situation will facilitate a more complete recovery of consumption and business sentiment and ease the pressure on the labor market.

Echoing his words, Financial Secretary Paul Chan also said in an essay that only after a large share of residents get the vaccine, will social distancing control be relaxed, people's life return to normalcy and cross-border travel get back on track.

While the economy has shown signs of improving recently, Chan still emphasized the severity of the current situation.

Although the jobless rate fell from a 17-year high to 6.8 percent during the first quarter, there were still nearly 260,000 people having no job and 148,000 underemployed, Chan said, citing in particular that the jobless rate in food services remained high at 13.3 percent.

There is an urgent need to bring the epidemic under control, he said.

A vaccine rollout by the government started on Feb. 26 in Hong Kong and about 1.25 million doses have been administered so far, with some 424,800 residents fully vaccinated. Observers believe the vaccination ratio is still low given a 7.5-million population in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection reported Sunday six new confirmed cases of COVID-19, with two locally transmitted and four imported. The COVID-19 tally in the financial hub totaled 11,736.

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