Coronavirus: US admits raising Hong Kong risk level was a mistake

  • Centres for Disease Control and Protection had moved the city from ‘low’ risk to ‘moderate’, and advised travellers be fully vaccinated
  • Experts were bewildered by the decision and the reason for the status change remains unclear, as Hong Kong hasn’t had a local infection since August 17

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Many people were confused when the US Centres for Disease Control raised Hong Kong’s coronavirus risk level, since the city hasn’t had a local infection since mid-August. Photo: SCMP/ Sam Tsang

United States health authorities on Wednesday admitted to making a mistake in raising the coronavirus risk level for Hong Kong to moderate, official sources said.

On Monday, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention moved Hong Kong from a “low” to “moderate” level, urging Americans to “make sure you are fully vaccinated before travelling to Hong Kong”, adding, “if you must travel and have concerns, talk to your doctor”.

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However, it has now reversed that position, and its website shows Hong Kong’s risk level is low.

Two official sources confirmed that authorities in Hong Kong were told the change was an error which had been fixed.

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Where destinations are placed on the CDC scale depends on the number of infections per 100,000 people and a “new case trajectory” over a 28-day period, though no specifics about how that is calculated are provided on its website.

The four levels range from “low” to “very high”, with the latter meaning all travel to a destination should be avoided. But how Hong Kong’s status came to be downgraded remains unclear, with local experts bewildered by the decision.

The change on Monday left many confused, as Hong Kong had recorded no local infections since August 17.

On Tuesday, the city confirmed 13 new imported cases, bringing its tally to 12,209 cases, with 213 related deaths.

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