Lifting anti-pandemic measures with caution

【明報專訊】Despite the deep worry of the World Health Organisation about the global spread of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, some countries have still decided to lift their anti-pandemic restrictions in the coming summer. The British prime minister has announced his plan to ''restore people's freedoms'' in England on July 19. Singapore has also decided to change its anti-pandemic strategy, forgoing the target of ''zero infection'' and adopting the strategy of reopening in stages. As the COVID-19 virus will never be eradicated from the world, in the long run mankind must, with the help of vaccines and antivirals, ''live with the pandemic''. The question is how to find a safe transition to this ''new normal in the future''. Although the UK has a high inoculation rate, some experts have warned that lifting all the restrictions with undue haste is not only highly risky, but may also lead to the creation of ''variant factories''. In Hong Kong, although we are approaching the target of zero infection, there is no need to take risks before the vaccination rate target has been achieved. The top priority now should be to enhance the city's efforts in boosting inoculation, thus creating the conditions for the transition to the new normal, and to keep a close eye on the experiences of the lifting of restrictions in other countries and draw lessons from them.