Ophthalmology at OT&P
Perfecting sight, enhancing vision.
Urology at OT&P
Leading the way in urological health.
Cardiology at OT&P
Guarding hearts, enhancing lives.
  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.

COVID-19 Timeline

A timeline of COVID-19 and OT&P updates.

When managing epidemics of new infectious disease it is important to learn the lessons of the past, but also to recognise the specific variables and uncertainties of the present. Communicating risk in evolving epidemics involves recognising those uncertainties and being prepared to change advice on the basis of new and evolving evidence. Education, reliable information and effective communication are key factors in the management of epidemics of infectious disease.

As COVID-19 spread throughout the world, information about this new disease evolved at an unprecedented pace. We produced a timeline of this evolving process for our patients. All of our Covid-19 communications are available via the timeline allowing them to be assessed in context.

Navigate through the months to see key disease milestones.

COVID-19 Timeline

February 2023

China fully resumed travel with Hong Kong and Macau starting this date, dropping all quotas or mandatory testing requirements[155].

January 2023

The Hong Kong Government announced the end of isolation requirements for COVID-19 patients[154].


The Chinese government has started relaxing some of the immigration restrictions. Hong Kong also announced the reopening of borders with China, allowing people to travel without quarantine[153].

December 2022

The Hong Kong Government announced the end of all restrictions on arrival, ending '0 + 3' regime[152]. Additionally, people will no longer be required to scan LeaveHomeSafe QR code to enter various premises[151].

  • The Hong Kong Government announced that citizens above the age of 18 will be allowed to book for fifth jab, starting December 16th. The bivalent vaccine will also be available as an option to adults[150]
  • China's National Health Commission also announced a nationwide loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, where PCR testing and lockdowns will be limited[149]
  • China also announced that entry to public venues will no longer require a health pass and people with COVID-19 are allowed to home quarantine[148]
November 2022

Hong Kong's Secretary of Health approved the use of BioNTech's new COVID-19 bivalent vaccine, becoming available for emergency use at the end of November[147].


The Hong Kong Government announced that campsites and other outdoor venues will be reopened. Additionally, inbound travellers are now allowed to visit mask-on venues[146].

October 2022

Starting from this day, Hong Kong loosened the restrictions further, increasing the number of diners per table from 8 to 12. The circuit breaker mechanism for cruises has also been revoked[145].

September 2022

Hong Kong Government announced the ending of compulsory quarantine requirements upon arrival[144].


OT&P published a blog titled, "What next for Hong Kong Part 6: Not lying flat".

June 2022

OT&P 17th Podcast episode. Doctor David Owens and Professor Ben Cowling discuss a wide range of issues around the science of Covid including the emerging 6th wave, the evidence for vaccines and masks and lessons from the Russian flu pandemic of 1889. They also discuss Long Covid and answer questions from you our listeners.

May 2022

Starting from today, only customers who fulfil the requirement under the third stage of the vaccine pass will be allowed to enter catering premises and relevant scheduled premises. The government reminds eligible persons to update their electronic vaccination records[143].


The Hong Kong Government announced today that uninfected individuals aged 18 to 59 who are at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure or with personal needs may choose to receive a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine from now on, no matter they have received the BioNTech or the Sinovac vaccine for their previous doses[142].


Starting from today, the second stage of relaxation in Hong Kong social distancing measures will be implemented as scheduled. That includes extension of the dinnertime dine-in service hours in catering premises, allowing bars/pubs as well as other scheduled premises regulated under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation (Cap. 599F) which are currently closed, and allowing eating and drinking in cinemas etc[141].

April 2022

4,035 confirmed cases are reported this week in Hong Kong (18/4-24/4). 


Starting from this date, catering premises’ dine-in service hours can be extended until 10 pm. Sports premises (indoor and outdoor venues), fitness centres, beauty parlours and massage establishments, places of public entertainment (including cinemas), places of amusement, game centres, event premises and religious premises are allowed to reopen. As for cinemas, while patrons are generally not allowed to eat or drink, such a restriction may be lifted in an individual house of a cinema provided that the relevant staff and customers have received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine[140].


In Hong Kong, primary schools reopen for in-person half-day classes today. Secondary schools may restart in-person classes after the examinations of the 2022 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination core subjects are completed[139].

To facilitate the use of the vaccine pass, Hong Kong people who have recovered from COVID-19 may download the recovery record QR code through the COVID-19 Electronic Vaccination & Testing Record System starting from this date[138].


7,642 confirmed cases are reported this week in Hong Kong (11/4-17/4).


Starting from this date, private doctors who have registered under the Electronic Health Record Sharing System can make requests for the two antivirals Paxlovid and Molnupiravir for COVID-19 patients via a dedicated electronic platform[137].

18,753 confirmed cases are reported this week in Hong Kong (4/4-10/4).


The Hong Kong government invited all people in Hong Kong to do a rapid antigen test (RAT) for three days in a row from April 8th to 10th, 2022. Only people who were tested positive were needed to report the information online[136].

Starting from this date, people aged 60 or above who are eligible to receive the fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine can get their jab[135].


42,912 confirmed cases are reported this week in Hong Kong (28/3-3/4).

March 2022

CDC updated its recommendations on this date to allow certain immunocompromised individuals and people over the age of 50 who received an initial booster dose at least 4 months ago to be eligible for another mRNA booster to increase their protection against severe disease from COVID-19[134].


80,817 confirmed cases are reported this week in Hong Kong (21/3-27/3).


156,423 confirmed cases are reported this week in Hong Kong (14/3-20/3).


The Hong Kong Government announced that stage three of the Vaccine Pass will initiate on May 31 instead of June 30. Additionally, the grace period for people aged 12 or above to receive the third dose will be shortened to six months[133].


Starting from this date, all UK COVID-19 travel restrictions will be lifted, including the passenger locator form (PLF) for arrivals into UK, as well as all tests for passengers who do not qualify as vaccinated[132].


All beaches run by the Hong Kong Leisure & Cultural Services Department will be closed from March 18th, 2022 onwards until further notice to reduce crowds from gathering and avoid transmitting the virus[131].


Covid restrictions in France, including Covid-19 vaccine passport, indoor face mask mandate has been lifted today. The vaccine pass remains mandatory to access elderly home care centres however [130].

247,957 confirmed cases are reported this week in Hong Kong (7/3-13/3).


Barber shops and hair salons will be allowed to reopen today with the full implementation of the Vaccine Pass[129].


The Hong Kong Government used the Emergency Alert System for the first time to remind people that Queen Elizabeth Hospital has been designated for COVID-19 patients[128].


The Hong Kong Government launched an online reporting platform for people who test positive for COVID-19 using rapid antigen tests[127].

300,303 confirmed cases are reported this week in Hong Kong (28/2-6/3).

February 2022

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised its travel alert for Hong Kong by two levels, citing a high level of Covid-19 transmission[126]

67,252 confirmed cases are reported this week in Hong Kong (21/2-27/2).


Hong Kong's Vaccine Pass Initiative commences today. Under the Vaccine Pass arrangement, people who enter or are present at catering premises, shopping malls, department stores, wet markets, supermarkets, and other premises regulated are required to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine[125]


The Hong Kong Government set up a new dedicated community vaccination centre (CVC) at the Hong Kong Central Library in Causeway Bay to provide the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccination service for people aged 3 to 17 and those aged 60 or above[124]


Hong Kong Transport & Housing Bureau said a designated bus fleet will provide transport to people who tested positive for COVID-19 to community isolation facilities[123]

26,361 confirmed cases are reported this week in Hong Kong (14/2-20/2).


OT&P published a blog titled, "What next for Hong Kong: Dynamic zero or mitigation?".

OT&P 15th Podcast episode. Dr David Owens and Professor Ben Cowling discuss the evolving fifth wave in Hong Kong. In a change from our previous episodes, we asked our listeners to submit questions, we were overwhelmed with the response and apologise that we were not able to cover all issues. 


The Hospital Authority today announced that seven designated clinics will come into service starting from tomorrow for people with Covid-19 symptoms but are awaiting hospital admission[122].


7,565 confirmed cases are reported this week in Hong Kong (7/2-13/2).


Hong Kong government announced today that it will extend the suspension of passenger flights from eight countries to March 4. This list includes Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the UK and the US, while the same restriction will apply to aircraft from Nepal from tomorrow[120].

WHO added tocilizumab, a monoclonal antibody, to its list of prequalified treatments for COVID-19 today. To date, six COVID-19 treatments have been prequalified by WHO, including the three presentations (three vials, each with a different quantity) of the product prequalified today [121].


Hong Kong government announced on this date that COVID-related restrictions will be tightened further. This includes reducing the private gathering limits, introducing a mandatory 14-day closure of barbershops, and implementation of a Vaccine Pass at Category D restaurantst[119].


The StayHomeSafe Scheme was launched on this day. Under this scheme, patients' close contacts and household members of those close contacts can arrange to undergo home quarantine for 14 days and four days respectively, if their home environments are deemed appropriate for quarantine after assessment[118].


1,116 confirmed cases are reported this week in Hong Kong (31/1-6/2).

January 2022

820 confirmed cases are reported this week in Hong Kong (24-30/1).


CDC released a study looking into the immunity provided by vaccination and infection and concluded that vaccination is the safest way to gain protection against COVID-19[117].


The sixth round of the Hong Kong’s Anti-Epidemic Fund distributed more than $2 million to the tourism industry[116].


The Hong Kong Government announced starting from this day that bureaus and departments will implement special work arrangement, including allowing some staff to take turns working from home[115].


245 confirmed cases are reported this week in Hong Kong (17-23/1). 


About 10,718,600 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to the people of Hong Kong, with about 5,218,500 of them receiving their first dose and about 4,740,800 of them getting their second dose[114].

The Hong Kong Government announced the first five-day lockdown operation at Ying Kwai House in Kwai Chung Estate along with other restriction and testing arrangements in nearby places. As of 24 January, there are 226 confirmed or preliminary positive cases[115].


Hong Kong’s Education Bureau announced today that all secondary schools should suspend face-to-face classes as well as all on-campus activities on or before January 24 until their Chinese New Year holidays[113].

OT&P 14th Podcast episode.After 6 months without a community case of Covid, we are now seeing sporadic community cases with clusters of both Omicron and Delta infections in Hong Kong. In our latest podcast Doctor David Owens and Professor Ben Cowling discuss the current situation. They discuss the dilemma of a Zero Covid strategy without a plan for exit. They consider what a plan B may look like. They also discuss the costs of the public health policy on physical and mental health and hamsters.


The UK government announced that they will drop mask mandate in the week of January 24th and will look into dropping self-isolation regulations in March or earlier[112].


WHO releases a statement that there is currently no evidence that children and adolescent needs COVID-19 boosters[110].

The Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department today announced a pet hamster cull after a cluster of COVID-19 cases was discovered at a pet shop in Causeway Bay. The department has ordered all pet shops selling hamsters across Hong Kong to close temporarily. Pet owners who have recently purchased hamsters are advised to hand over their animals to the department[111].


106 confirmed cases are reported this week in Hong Kong (10-16/1).


Israel announced that they will start providing 4th dose of COVID-19 vaccines to their high-risk population (healthcare workers and people older than 60 years old)[109].


Starting from this day, Hong Kong tightened their social distancing measures, including the closure of pubs & bars, amusement game centres, bathhouses, fitness centres, places of amusement and party rooms. All events and dine-in services at catering businesses are instructed to end at 6 pm[106].

The Hong Kong government issued a statement[107], stating that the banquet on 3 January with several officials attended, may involve another preliminary positive case who attended the event from 6 pm to 8 pm. If the case is confirmed eventually, all participants will be required to undergo quarantine. Some reports revealed there were more than 200 participants in the banquet and some of them didn’t wear masks[108].


HK new guidelines and rules[104] :

The Hong Kong Government announced new guidelines starting from January 7th, 2022: 
  • Dine-in services are banned from 6 PM to 5 AM. 
  • Fifteen types of venues such as bars, gyms, theme parks and swimming pools will be shut.

Starting from February 15th, Italy also tightened its workplace vaccine rules that anyone aged over 50 who are working must present a health pass proving they have been vaccinated or currently recovering from COVID-19[105].

December 2021

OT&P published a blog titled, "Hong Kong Government Updated Advice on Covid Boosters" 


The US FDA has authorized the second antiviral pill to treat COVID-19 at home. The medicine made by Merck and Ridgeback along with Pfizer’s Paxlovid treatment for COVID-19 has been approved. The pill will only be available by prescriptions[103].


OT&P Published, 'Covid 19 vaccine mandates: The arguments for and against.'

OT&P 13th Podcast episode. Dr David Owens and Professor Ben Cowling discuss the current situation in Hong Kong and the potential implications of the Omicron variant recently identified in South Africa. They discuss the dilemmas around vaccine hesitancy in the context of zero covid and specifically the threat of low vaccination rates in the vulnerable elderly. They also discuss the role of booster doses and the philosophical arguments around vaccine mandates.


Italy has implemented a “super green pass” which requires people to prove that they are vaccinated or recovering from COVID-19. Otherwise, they are no longer able to dine in or outside a restaurant, go to the gym or use public transport[102].

November 2021

Researchers from the Department of Microbiology at HKUMed were the first team in Asia to successfully isolate the Omicron Variant[101]


China pledges to donate 1 Billion Covid 19 vaccines to Africa[100].


Hong Kong implemented additional travel restrictions on Southern African countries. Arrivals from those countries, must quarantine for 7 days on Penny's Bay before heading to a designated quarantine hotel[99].


Omicron is declared a variant of concern.


Two cases of Omicron were detected in Hong Kong. The index case arrived from South Africa on 11.11.21. This first case was responsible for the second case in an adjacent quarantine room[98]


The Omicron variant was reported to the WHO has been detected in South Africa[97].


OT&P published a blog titled 'What Is It Like to Live With Long Covid?'

October 2021

Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) said moderately and severely immunocompromised persons should be offered an additional dose of all WHO-approved vaccines[96].


Singapore has announced that any unvaccinated individuals over the age of 12 can no longer be able to dine in restaurants, visit shopping malls or visit attractions starting from October 13th[95].


Hong Kong's updated vaccination records are now accepted by the UK Government to bypass testing and quarantine when travelling to the UK[94].


OT&P published a blog about whether if Hong Kong’s 21-day quarantine is evidence-based or justified.

OT&P COVID-19 Autumn Update.

OT&P 12th podcast episode. Dr David Owens and Professor Ben Cowling discuss the brittle nature of Zero Covid and the lack of evidence and potential harm caused by recent public health decisions around quarantine.


Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics is currently working on an experimental pill that can assist with treating COVID-19 cases. Early results showed patients who received the drug within five days of COVID-19 symptoms had about half the rate of hospitalization and death as patients who received a dummy pill[93].

September 2021

The Hong Kong government announced most of the social distancing measures will remain unchanged for two weeks. Meanwhile, the maximum number of people allowed per banquet in catering businesses adopting the Type D mode of operation will be relaxed to 240[92].


Norway announced that it will end all COVID-related restrictions on September 25th, 2021[91].

OT&P published the resource page for consolidating all evolving evidence, news and research relating to COVID-19.


Same-day ticket arrangement for COVID-19 vaccination will be expanded from Wednesday to cover all eligible people who want to receive the jab[90].


WHO emphasized its call for a pause on booster doses until the end of 2021, with the exception of the immune-compromised, to help optimize supply to low-income countries[89].

OT&P published a blog about how evolving evidence does not support the Zero Covid strategy.

OT&P also published the resource page consolidating all news and research relating to Long Covid.


The two scientific committees under the Centre for Health Protection agreed that high-risk groups may need to take an additional dose but not urgent to do so, The committees also recommended teenagers aged 12 to 17 receive just one dose of the BioNTech vaccine instead of two[88].

August 2021

OT&P 11th podcast episode. Dr David Owens and Professor Ben Cowling discuss the evidence for the reduced incubation period and increased infectivity of the delta variant and the importance of positive messaging to increase vaccination uptake in high-risk groups.


The Hong Kong Government announced that they will be tightening the travel restrictions as a response to a recent local transmission case[87].


The CDC has endorsed an additional dose of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine for immunocompromised patients[86].


California, US becomes the first state to mandate all teachers and school staff to be vaccinated[85].


The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is the first university in Hong Kong that will prohibit any untested and unvaccinated visitors from its campus. Meanwhile, all students, staff and university residents will have to register for a digital pass, which can only be obtained with a COVID-19 vaccination record or biweekly test results[84].


Wales has lifted most of their COVID-19 restrictions, which includes removing all limits to indoor gatherings, vaccinated adults won’t have to isolate if in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case and all businesses can now reopen[83].


Starting from today, all 18 elderly health centres (EHCs) will now provide walk-in vaccination services for members without prior booking from Monday to Friday[82].

OT&P publishes two blogs, answering concerns relating to the BioNTech and Sinovac vaccines in 12 easy questions.

July 2021

OT&P published a blog about whether if the younger age group should be vaccinated against COVID-19.

OT&P 10th podcast episode. Dr David Owens and Professor Ben Cowling discuss the evolving COVID-19 public health strategies playing out in different parts of the world.


OT&P COVID-19 Summer Update.

OT&P published a blog answering what is Long COVID?


England lifts their COVID-19 restrictions. Actions include ending social distancing, making facemasks non-mandatory, no longer imposing limits on gatherings and all closed venues will be able to reopen with no capacity limits[81].

OT&P published a blog answering whether if we need COVID-19 booster doses and a blog to answer some frequently asked questions on side effects of Hong Kong's COVID-19 vaccines.


The US government donated 2 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to assist Vietnam with its COVID-19 outbreak[80].


Hong Kong's COVID-19 Vaccination Programme has now been expanded to include approximately 2,000 more visitors who have to continue to stay in Hong Kong due to the epidemic[78].

WHO updated its patient care guidelines to include interleukin-6 receptor blockers, a class of medicines that can be lifesaving to patients who are severely or critically ill with COVID-19, especially when administered alongside corticosteroids[79].


OT&P publishes two blogs, answering concerns relating to the BioNTech and Sinovac vaccines in 12 easy questions.

June 2021

OT&P publishes a blog answering which is the best vaccine for COVID-19 – BioNTech or Sinovac.

OT&P also publishes a blog explaining what is the Delta variant.


OT&P 9th podcast episode. Dr Owens and Professor Ben Cowling discuss the recent government decision to reduce quarantine for vaccinated individuals provided they have proof of positive antibodies.


OT&P 8th podcast episode. Gira Patel joins Dr Owens to discuss the psychological impact of COVID-19.

OT&P publish a blog which questions whether Zero Covid is now a sustainable strategy.

OT&P also publish a short article about antibody testing after vaccination.


The United States plans to donate 500 million doses of vaccines that will be used to target low and middle-income countries[77].


WHO has approved the Sinovac vaccine for emergency use, giving countries, funders, procuring agencies and communities another option to tackle COVID-19[77].

May 2021

A number of private firms in Hong Kong offer various lotteries and prizes for Hong Kong residents that have received both vaccination shots. The government and many firms have also started to offer additional incentives to their employees if they are vaccinated[76].


OT&P publish the seventh podcast discussing the sustainability of a Zero Covid strategy in the context of high vaccine hesitancy.


To drive vaccination rate, Sino Group announces a lottery draw for Hong Kong residents that have been vaccinated. The grand prize includes a HK$10.8m flat. It is the first of a number of incentives offered by private organisations[75].


The Hong Kong Government expanded the vaccination programme to include Mainland residents that are staying in Hong Kong for a period of time[74].


OT&P publish a sixth podcast discussing about vaccine hesitancy in Hong Kong.

OT&P also publish the follow-up survey results relating to vaccine uptake among OT&P patients.

Gira Patel, one of OT&P's Mental Health Counsellor, also wrote about her experience quarantining in Penny's Bay.


Hong Kong government will allow flights from the UK and Ireland to resume on May 7. Hong Kong residents in the two places may fly to Hong Kong as long as they acquire a negative COVID-19 test result with samples taken 72 hours prior to departure as well as confirmation of a 21-night room reservation in a designated quarantine hotel[73].

April 2021

The United States announced 100 million adults are now fully vaccinated[71]. This date was also the lowest weekly death rate the US has recorded for 2021. According to an analysis, there was an 80% drop since January[72].


About 1,377,600 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to the people of Hong Kong, with about 897,100 of them receiving their first dose and about 480,500 of them getting their second dose. This equal to 11.8% of Hong Kong’s total population had taken their first shot and 6.4% that had taken their second shot.[70]


The United Kingdom administered 47.5 million vaccine doses as of this date, nearly 34 million of which are first shots. The UK is second only to Israel in terms of the proportion of the population who have received the first dose of vaccine, which stands at around 50% of their total population.[69]


India reported 332,730 new COVID-19 cases on this day, which is the highest number of daily cases globally for the second day in a row.[68]


The Hong Kong vaccination programme was expanded to cover people aged 16 to 29. People in this age group could book their vaccination shots starting at April 23.[67]


Hong Kong government kicked off the Outreach Vaccination Arrangement for Residential Care Homes (RCHs) today. The arrangement helps provide free vaccination services at RCHs for their residents and users of their day service.[66]


The coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom is now the most common strain in the United States.[65]

March 2021

OT&P 20th newsletter.

OT&P publish a fifth podcast discussing the rationale and impact of targeted quarantine measures, the effectiveness of vaccines and the challenges of vaccine hesitancy.


Hong Kong and Macau government suspended BioNTech vaccination after packaging defects were found in one batch of the vaccine. Preliminary findings show that this defect should not cause any health risks and the suspension is undertaken as a precaution. [64]


COVID-19 cases in Europe continues to increase with many fearing that this is a third wave. Several European countries have reintroduced lockdowns and imposed stricter social distancing measures as a result [63]

  • Germany prolonged its partial lockdown into April.
  • Italy extended its state of emergency until 30th
  • Poland closed most public venues for three weeks, starting from 17 March.

The UK vaccination programme is a huge success. More than 95% of elderly aged 60 or over have received their first jabs. Half of the adults in UK have also received their first dose of vaccine.


The French Government announced a four-week lockdown in Paris and parts of northern France due to the transmission of the highly contagious COVID-19 variants coupled with a slow vaccination rollout. [62]


Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 120 million.


Hong Kong was hit by a super spreader event at a fitness gym. The government reported 10 confirmed cases related to the gym on this day. Altogether, the gym cluster expanded to 109 cases.

Many residential buildings and workplaces in the Central and Western Districts are now covered by compulsory testing notices. Over 860 close contacts of cluster patients are quarantined and more than 2,200 people are required to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing as a result.


Hong Kong is now rolling out the BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as part of their vaccination program.  


The United Kingdom identified six cases of the variant that was first detected in Brazil, triggering an extensive targeted testing program.[61]

February 2021

A new COVID-19 cluster in Hong Kong originates in Mr. Ming’s Chinese Dining at K11 Musea Shopping Centre. This cluster is tied to a total of 44 confirmed cases. K11 Musea shuts down for two days after the cluster number grew. [60]


Hong Kong begins the rollout of their mass vaccination program.


OT&P 19th newsletter.

OT&P publish a fourth podcast to discuss the Hong Kong's population immunity to COVID-19 and specifically the role of COVID-19 vaccinations in the normalization of life in Hong Kong.


Hong Kong government begins to ease its social distancing measures:

  • Dine-in services at restaurant can be extended by four hours until 10 pm
  • The public group gatherings limit rises from two people to four people
  • Gyms and theme parks can now reopen, but bars, clubs, and karaoke lounges will remain closed

The Hong Kong Government also authorised Sinovac vaccine as part of Hong Kong’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout program.


WHO reports that the number of reported global weekly COVID-19 cases has dropped nearly 50% due to public health measures.  [59]


The weekly confirmed cases in the US have dropped from an average of 254,002 confirmed cases to 108,153 confirmed cases within the span of January to February. This represents a 57% reduction in confirmed cases. The following measures have been implemented over this time [58]: 

  • Improved rates of mask-wearing
  • Stricter coronavirus-related restrictions, including public gatherings and indoor dining
  • Increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates

The UK government introduces mandatory hotel quarantine, starting from 15 February 2021. Anyone that travel to the UK from a country on the UK’s banned list will be required to quarantine for 10 days in a government approved facility.


Japan announced tighter COVID-19 restrictions[57]:

  • Bars and restaurants will be fined if they defy closure requests.
  • Anyone infected by COVID-19 but refuses hospitalisation, will be fined up to 500,000 yen (US$4,800) and might be sentenced to prison.

OT&P 18th newsletter.

OT&P publish a third podcast interviewing a Hong Kong doctor who has spent the last year working as a front line emergency doctor in London.

The Hong Kong Government updated the compulsory testing policy for buildings. The building will be listed for compulsory testing if[56]:  

  • There are one or more confirmed cases with unknown sources.
  • There are two or more confirmed cases found.
  • There are sewage samples test positive.

Since January 23 2021, the Hong Kong Government has closed 8 different districts in 11 days, tested nearly 10,000 people and found 14 confirmed patients.

January 2021

Marked one year since WHO declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.


Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 100 million.


For the first time, Hong Kong implemented mandatory lockdown in the restricted area. More than half of the confirmed cases came from the Yau Tsim Mong District in the past two weeks. To curb the local epidemic, the government has blocked the Jordan area, and all residents must stay at home for mandatory testing.[55] 


OT&P 17th newsletter.

OT&P publish a second podcast discussing the expectations of the fourth wave in Hong Kong, the evolving new viral mutations and the outlook for immunization.


Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 90 million.

  • A new variant of the coronavirus is identified in Japan, it is different from the strains found in the UK and South Africa[54].
  • China is experiencing a new coronavirus outbreak in Hebei Province. The number of confirmed cases has continued to increase since the 2nd January in the province. A total of 123 local cases have been recorded, including 194 cases of asymptomatic infection. Hebei entered a state of emergency and the provincial capital Shijiazhuang declared a lockdown[53].
  • The number of confirmed cases in the UK has reached a new high, with more than 50,000 daily confirmed cases recorded in a week.
  • In response to the rapid spread of new virus variant, UK announced the third national lockdown[52]. The epidemic prevention measures were similar to those in March last year:
    • People will be asked to stay at home.
    • From now until mid-February, all schools in England will be shut and teaching will be moved online.
December 2020
  • Hong Kong government announced new travel restrictions on the UK[51]:
    • Starting from midnight on the 22nd, any passengers who have been in the UK for more than 2 hours in the past 14 days will be prohibited from arriving in Hong Kong.
    • Any passengers who have been in the United Kingdom and are now arriving in Hong Kong will be required to complete the "14+7" quarantine, which includes 14 days of compulsory hotel quarantine and 7 days of mandatory stay-at-home order.
  • Many European countries impose new travel bans on the UK after it reported a more contagious coronavirus variant. Germany, France, Italy, Iceland, the Netherlands, and Belgium are included in the list imposing the travel ban[50].
  • The UK reported that the new COVID-19 variant is 70% more easily transmitted.
  • UK announced a new tier-four restriction in London and South East England over Christmas to curb the spread of COVID-19[49].
  • South Africa announced a new COVID-19 mutation that was spreading within the country. The new coronavirus variant is named “501Y.V2”[48].

OT&P 16th newsletter.

OT&P publish the first podcast update about the transmission of COVID-19, Closing Schools and the balance of public health measures. This episode features Professor Ben Cowling, who is the division head of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics in the School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong.

OT&P also publish a blog about vaccines for COVID-19.

  • The UK identified a new strain of COVID-19 (501Y.V1) that suggests an increase in transmission[47].
  • The Hong Kong Government has announced the procurement of three different vaccine candidates which will be dependent upon peer-reviewed evidence from ongoing studies.
  • The Hong Kong Government continues to tighten social distancing restrictions to cope with the fourth wave of COVID-19 infections:
    • Social gathering that includes more than a group of two people is banned.
    • No dine-in services are allowed after 6:00 pm.
    • Gym, beauty salons, amusement parks, swimming pools and other premises are also closed.
  • China’s Sinopharm vaccine is 86% effective against COVID-19, according to the UAE’s preliminary results[46].
  • The United Kingdom becomes the first country to rollout Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to its citizens[45].
  • Hong Kong's Education Bureau announced the closure of all schools until 2021.
November 2020

Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 60 million.

  • Hong Kong entered a fourth wave of COVID-19 outbreak with over 600 cases linked to the dance club cluster:
    • Hong Kong closed all kindergartens and primary schools as a response to COVID-19 cases increasing.
    • Plans for the Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble has been put on hold.
    • Hong Kong government launched a contact tracing initiative in a mobile app format to track untraceable infections.
  • Pfizer’s vaccine is 95% effective against COVID-19, according to the interim analysis[44].
  • New York City in the United States shuts down all the public schools as the cases continue to rise.
  • Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5% effective as announced by the company[43].
  • Germany also initiated a partial lockdown [42]:
    • Bars, restaurants, tattoo shops and massage parlours will close.
    • Social contacts are limited to two households and must not exceed the maximum of 10 people.
    • School and kindergartens will remain open.
  • UK announced that there will be a second national lockdown[41]:
    • People are told to stay at home unless they have an essential reason to leave.
    • Bars, restaurants and non-essential shops will be closed, but takeaways and click-and-collect shops are permitted to remain open.
    • Leisure and entertainment venues will also close.
    • Schools can remain open.
October 2020
  • Hong Kong government continues to ease social distance rules as COVID-19 cases decline [39]:
    • Restaurants can now offer dine-in services to 2 AM.
    • Pubs are allowed to serve up to 4 people per table and restaurants can serve up to 6 people per table.
    • The maximum of public gathering remains unchanged at 4 people.
  • France imposed a second national lockdown in the country due to the surge of COVID-19 cases. People are required to stay at home, no social gathering is allowed [40].

Total COVID-19 death toll surpasses 1 million.

  • Melbourne is lifting the lockdown restriction after zero COVID-19 cases reported on 26th October [38]:
    • “Stay-at-home” order is changed to “Stay-safe”.
    • Restaurants, hotels, and retail stores are permitted to reopen with the group limits of 10 persons indoor.
    • Entertainment and other venues, including beauty salons, tattoo parlours are also allowed to reopen.
    • Weddings are allowed with up to 10 people.

Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 40 million.

  • South Korea and Japan relaxed their restriction on business travel with a bilateral agreement. Short-term business travellers are exempted from 14-days quarantine [37].

September 2020
September update
  • Coronavirus cases continued resurging in many European countries:
    • France reported 16,068 confirmed cases, which is higher than the record of 5,483 during the first wave.
    • The UK reported 6,634 confirmed cases, which is the highest daily cases so far.
    • Spain reports 12,245 confirmed cases, recording over 75,000 cases in the past seven days.
  • As confirmed cases are rising, the United Kingdom releases new COVID-19 restrictions starting from 24 September, it could last six months [36]:
    • Social gatherings above groups of six are banned.
    • Hospitality venues must close before 10 pm.
    • The number of wedding guests is capped at 15.

Total COVID-19 cases surpass 30 million.

  • Hong Kong government continues to ease social distancing restrictions as cases decline[35]:
    • Dine-in services at catering premises are extended to 12 pm.
    • Some indoor premises can reopen, includes bars, karaoke, theme parks.
  • Hong Kong government relaxes social distance rules as Covid-19 cases drop[34]:
  • Hong Kong government further relaxes social distancing restrictions:
    • Public group gathering limit rises from two to four people.
    • Wearing a mask is no longer mandatory for outdoor exercise.
  • Hong Kong has recorded less than 20 new cases daily in the past 6 days.
  • Hong Kong government further relaxes social distancing restrictions:
    • Restaurants can now offer dine-in services until 10 pm.
    • Some indoor premises are allowed to reopen, including gyms, and massage parlours.

OT&P 15th newsletter. This is also the first newsletter to have an audio version available. 

OT&P publish findings of a recent study exploring our patient perceptions of the mass testing program: 'Survey of Patient Perceptions of the Hong Kong Mass Testing Program and Recognition of Potential Barriers to Testing'.

  • Hong Kong government launches the universal community testing programme, all Hong Kong residents can get one-off free COVID-19 testing.
August 2020
  • Japan announces the decision to lift travel restrictions on foreigners’ re-entry, allowing foreigners with resident status to return to Japan from Sep 1.[32]
  • South Korea extends level-2 restrictions until September 6, in response to a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.[33]
  • In the past 11 days, Hong Kong has recorded less than 50 new daily cases.
  • Hong Kong government lifts the social distancing restrictions gradually:
    • Restaurants can now offer dine-in services to 9 pm.
    • Beauty salons, cinemas, and some outdoor sports venues can now reopen.
  • Europe’s coronavirus confirmed cases surge [31]:
    • Germany reports its highest daily increase in cases since May, more than 6,740 people are infected in the past 7 days.
    • France reports 2,524 new confirmed cases today, it is the biggest daily rise in cases since May.
    • Spain is experiencing a second wave of outbreak, 5,487 new cases were recorded on August 9.

Total COVID-19 cases surpass 20 million.

  • The UK delays plans to relax remaining restrictions as the virus spikes.[30]
July 2020
  • For the sixth day in a row, Hong Kong continues to record new cases that reach triple-digits.[29]
  • As a result, the Hong Kong government announces a series of new measures that will come into effect from July 29th:
    • Gathering in public will be limited to only two people per group. Members of the same family are exempted.
    • Restaurants are unable to offer dine-in services for the whole day. Certain public establishments are exempted, such as eateries in public hospitals.
    • Masks are now required outdoors as well. There are no exemptions for exercising or smoking.
  • A total of 108 new cases were confirmed, the highest since March. 83 of these cases were local.
  • The Hong Kong government announced a series of new measures, including[28]:
    • Restaurants are unable to offer eat-in services from 6 pm to 5 am. Only takeaway will be available during this time.
    • Mask-wearing is now mandatory in all indoor public places.
    • Gyms, beauty salons and 15 other venues are also temporarily closed.
  • As a result of the increasing number of local cases, the government reintroduces previous social gathering restrictions.
  • Hong Kong identifies 16 locally infected people from different districts. This is the highest local increase in cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • A cook in a local restaurant is confirmed positive, breaking the 21-day streak of no confirmed local cases.

This also marks the start of Hong Kong's third "wave" with COVID-19.[27]


Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 11 million.

June 2020

Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 10 million.

  • WHO update face masks guidelines.[26]
  • The United Kingdom announced that non-essential overseas travel restrictions will be eased 14 day quarantine will be lifted.[25]
  • A cluster was identified in Kwai Chung and Sha Tin, Hong Kong. As a result, the Hong Kong Government evacuated some residents.[24]
  • Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine commences phase 2 trials.[23]
May 2020
  • There was a confirmed case of a 34-year-old woman with no recent travel history, resulting in an extension of Hong Kong's social distancing measures.[22]

OT&P publish a blog asking ‘what we know about COVID-19 and how lifestyle and diet affect the severity of the disease?’

  • The Hong Kong government start easing the restrictions implemented in April, allowing beauty salons and gyms to reopen.[21]
April 2020
  • The FDA posted a caution against using hydroxychloroquine as a treatment option for COVID-19.[20]

OT&P announce a study with the University of Hong Kong. The study will provide evidence of the effectiveness of the community-wide interventions that Hong Kong has been implementing. The study required 1,500 volunteers to donate a blood sample. The response to the newsletter was extraordinary, such that we had more than 3,000 volunteers within 4 hours and the study was oversubscribed.

  • For the first time since the outbreak began, China reported its first day with no COVID-19 deaths.

We published a COVID-19 Q&A.

  • As a result of the Lan Kwai Fong cluster, all pubs and bars were also ordered to close for 14 days.

Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 1 million.

  • The Hong Kong government also announced the temporary closure of all karaoke lounges, nightclubs, beauty parlours, massage parlours, clubhouses and mahjong premises.
March 2020
  • The Hong Kong government announces further restrictions, banning any indoor or outdoor gathering of more than four people. Restaurants were also required to operate at half their capacity and to set their tables at least 1.5 metres apart.[19]
  • Hong Kong announces the closure of its border to all incoming non-residents arriving from overseas. Transiting through Hong Kong was also no longer allowed. In addition, all returning residents were subject to compulsory quarantine for 14 days. Returning residents from high-risk countries were required to go through enhanced screening procedures and submit a saliva sample for testing.[18]
  • The United Kingdom goes into lockdown.[17]

  • Wuhan begins easing of its two-month-long lockdown and starts reopening the city to anyone that could provide a "green code of health". Non-residents were also allowed to apply to leave the city as travel resumes.[16]

Hong Kong records 48 new infections, the biggest daily tally so far.[15]

  • China reports no local transmission for the first day.

As more politicians made bleak predictions about COVID-19, we discussed the danger of predictions of mortality in evolving epidemics.

  • The first human trials of a coronavirus vaccine begin in Seattle, United States.[14]
  • China introduces 14-day quarantine for any overseas arrival.[13]

WHO declares the coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic.[12]

  • The United States reports an increasing number of cases, including Washington, California, Florida, Arizona, Indiana. New York City reports 44 confirmed cases on this date. This marks the beginning of the U.S's COVID-19 epidemic.[11]
  • Wuhan closed its first makeshift hospital, marking the beginning of the cluster in Wuhan coming under control.[9]

Hong Kong reaches the milestone of 100 confirmed cases.[10]

February 2020

We asked the question ‘How do we get back to normal?


OT&P 4th newsletter

We emphasised a focus on two distinct but different concepts: the disease and the epidemic.

  • A patient in his 30s tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) in Codogno Hospital (Lodi, Lombardy, Italy). Over the next 24 hours, the number of reported cases would increase to 36, many without links to the Codogno patient or previously identified positive cases. A first COVID-19 death in a 78-year-old man was also reported. It is the beginning of the Italian epidemic.[8]

To assist parents in dealing with school closure, OT&P children’s behavioural therapist wrote an article on how to maintain structure at home during this period.

South Korea reports over 20 more cases on this day, marking the beginning of the outbreak cluster in Daegu, South Korea.[7]

  • Onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan, 175 people are infected with the virus. Over the following days and weeks, almost 700 people will be infected onboard.
  • Coronavirus is officially named COVID-19.
  • The death toll in China rises to 800+, surpassing SARS related deaths.
  • Hong Kong introduces prison sentences for anyone breaching quarantine rules.

Communicating risk in an epidemic: A personal perspective written by Dr David Owens as a reflection of his previous experience of the epidemics of TB, HIV and SARS.


First death recorded in Hong Kong from COVID-19. A 39-year old male who had travelled to Wuhan on the 21st of January with an underlying illness.

  • The first COVID-19 death was reported outside of China, a 44-year-old Wuhan resident who died in the Philippines.
January 2020
  • The United States declares COVID-19 a public health emergency and imposes a mandatory 14-day quarantine to any U.S citizen that had visited Hubei Province in China. Additionally, all non-U.S. nationals that have travelled to China two weeks before their flight will be denied entry.[6]

OT&P published a blog explaining why the WHO has declared the global health emergency.

The first two COVID-19 cases are confirmed in the UK.[6]

  • WHO Director-General declares a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and advises “all countries should be prepared for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of 2019-nCoV infection”.
  • As a response of the evolving situation in Hong Kong, The Leisure and Cultural Services Department announces the closure of all public museums, public libraries and sport centres until further notice.[5]
  • The United States reported its first locally transmitted case in Chicago.
  • Hong Kong’s first case of local transmission is recorded.
  • The Hong Kong government started implementing border control and reducing traffic from Mainland China. They also announced their first work at home recommendation on this day.[4]
  • In Germany, the first cluster of infections with person-to-person transmission from asymptomatic patients in Europe was reported. The source of infection was an individual from Shanghai visiting a company in Bavaria.
  • As health authorities in Hong Kong confirmed more cases, the Hong Kong government officially declared the viral outbreak as an "emergency".

OT&P produce their first newsletter.

The first blog: the distinction between the disease and the epidemic was published.

  • A WHO China office field mission to Wuhan issued a statement saying that there was evidence of human-to-human transmission in Wuhan, but more investigation was needed to understand the full extent of transmission.[3]

Hong Kong also recorded its first positive case, a 39-year-old man who arrived in Hong Kong from China.

  • China reports three deaths and more than 200 infections. Cases are now also diagnosed outside Hubei province (Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen). Asian countries begin to introduce mandatory screenings at airports of all arrivals from high-risk areas of China.
  • The United States reported its first COVID-19 case.
  • The gene sequencing data of the new virus was posted on by researchers from Fudan University, Shanghai.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) issues an alert that 44 patients with pneumonia of unknown etiology have been reported by the national authorities in China. Of the 44 cases reported, 11 are severely ill while the remaining 33 patients are in stable condition[2].
December 2019
  • Li Wenliang[1], a 34-year-old ophthalmologist from Wuhan, posts a message on a WeChat group alerting fellow doctors to a new disease at his hospital in late December.

We will continue to update this timeline regularly to include major milestones and information. If you’d like to receive updates directly to your inbox, please subscribe to our newsletter.

Related Articles

Testing for COVID-19

Testing and detection is an important aspect of controlling the spread of COVID-19. Our test includes a consultation with a GP (teleconsultations available), deep throat saliva test and a personalised results report.

Book an Appointment

Covid-19 Related Blogs