Elderly Hong Kong residents seeking to get vaccinated for [Covid](tag?_=covid) -19 will soon only need to pick up the phone and a coach will drive them to an inoculation centre, a senior official has said. Mobile vaccination vehicles will also begin visiting local housing estates next month as the government continues its attempts to boost vaccination rates among the elderly, a demographic that has remained stubbornly resistant to the jabs. On Saturday, the city confirmed six new [Covid](tag?_=covid) -19 cases, all of which were imported. That included the 55-year-old Russian diplomat whose preliminary-positive test triggered an overnight lockdown on Friday at his residential building in Grand Promenade in Sai Wan Ho, where he was self-isolating as he was exempt from hotel quarantine. The other five comprised three domestic helpers, from the Philippines and Indonesia, and two travellers from Britain. The infections took the city’s total number of confirmed cases to 12,291, with 213 related deaths. Fewer than 10 people tested preliminary-positive. Earlier, Secretary for Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said the government would continue to press its community vaccination campaign, as the number of residents getting jabbed was dwindling. “Recently, the average number of people receiving the first dose has only been about 3,000 a day. We foresee that figure continuing to drop,” he told a radio programme. “So, we will continue to deepen our vaccination drive in the community … We will have a vaccination hotline offering a coach pickup service for the elderly to get jabbed in the inoculation centres.” While Nip offered no specific timeline for the pickup service, he added that mobile vaccination vehicles would also be dispatched to local housing estates from next month to give residents jabs on the spot. To date, more than 4.55 million of Hong Kong residents have received at least one dose of [vaccine](tag?_=vaccine) , equivalent to 67.7 per cent of those aged 12 or above. A total of 127 elderly people and residents were vaccinated on Saturday through a government outreach programme in Tai O, a fishing village in Hong Kong’s Lantau Island. The one-stop service administering the Sinovac shots also provided medical consultation, to allow people living in the rural area to get vaccinated. However, the vaccination rate among the elderly remains low, with just 15.4 per cent of those aged 80 or above having received a dose, and 41.6 per cent of those between 70 and 79. Last month, the government announced plans to launch a pilot programme at 10 elder care facilities that would see residents jabbed unless they or their families specifically opted out. As for potential [vaccine](tag?_=vaccine) booster shots going forward, Nip told listeners Hong Kong had enough doses for people to receive a third jab if necessary. “We have purchased a total of 7.5 million doses each for both [BioNTech](tag?_=biontech) and Sinovac, sufficient for people to receive the third dose. But the actual arrangement depends on the experts’ recommendations,” he said. Professor Lau Yu-lung, who chairs the Centre for Health Protection’s scientific committee on [vaccine](tag?_=vaccine) preventable diseases, has backed an accelerated launch of third doses in the city after the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended giving them to people with weakened immune systems as well as elderly recipients of the Chinese-made Sinovac or Sinopharm [vaccines](tag?_=vaccines) . Lau and other experts will meet on Thursday to discuss the WHO recommendations. Meanwhile, the government said compulsory testing at Tower One of Grand Promenade had been fully completed by 9am on Saturday. As of 1am, about 830 residents were known to have undergone testing with no confirmed cases found. However, two residents found not having undergone compulsory testing were issued fixed penalty summonses of HK$5,000 (US$643). Speaking on another radio show, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said the government was continuing to push for a reopening of the border with mainland China. Foreign chambers of commerce, meanwhile, among the loudest critics of local quarantine policy, understood that Hong Kong needed to keep its stringent rules in place to gradually resume international travel, Yau said.
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