Malaysia vaccination records not recognised in HK

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A policy change in Hong Kong that comes into effect tomorrow will see Covid-19 vaccine recipients in Malaysia barred from entering the territory, potentially putting Malaysian students and business travellers in a limbo.

This came when Hong Kong authorities announced on Tuesday that it is adding 15 more countries, including Malaysia, to a list of “high-risk” countries, bringing the total in the list to 25 countries.

The additions come into effect at midnight tonight.

This means that Hong Kong residents who stayed in any of the 25 countries must be fully vaccinated when they arrive in Hong Kong, in addition to complying with testing requirements and a 21-day quarantine period.

This is in contrast to “medium risk” and “low risk” countries where unvaccinated or partly vaccinated travellers are still allowed to enter, albeit with a lengthier quarantine period compared to fully vaccinated travellers.

At the same time, however, Hong Kong only recognises vaccination certificates issued by certain health authorities and Malaysia is not on the list.

The entry requirements stipulate that the vaccination records of travellers must be issued by Hong Kong itself, authorities in Mainland China or Macau, or authorities of a country with a bilateral vaccination record recognition agreement with Hong Kong.

Vaccination records issued by one of 36 regulatory authorities designated by the World Health Organization as a “stringent regulatory authority” are also acceptable.

For the record, a “stringent regulatory authority” refers to members of the International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH), its observers, and its associates.

Of the 25 countries classified as “high risk” by Hong Kong authorities, only eight have health authorities classified as stringent.

This means there are 16 other countries potentially in the same predicament as Malaysia, such as Brazil, India, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

When contacted, Malaysia’s consul-general in Hong Kong, Yap Wei Sin, confirmed that Hong Kong residents vaccinated in Malaysia will not be able to enter Hong Kong once the new policy comes into effect.

He assured that the consulate is working on a solution and urged those affected by the policy to follow the consulate’s social media pages and website for updates on the matter.

“The policy has just been announced, and it is also noted that the consulate has no say in the determination of the Hong Kong government’s Covid-19 general border control measures, as much as the Hong Kong government has no say in the Malaysian government’s Covid-19 general border control measures.

“At the same time, the consulate is cognizant that many Malaysians are Hong Kong-residents, and these changes by the Hong Kong government have impacted upon their ability to return to Hong Kong from Malaysia.

“To the affected Malaysian Hong Kong residents, please be assured that the consulate is actively looking into, and exploring feasible solutions to this matter,” he told Malaysiakini in an email today. – Malaysiakini