This means vaccinated people coming from medium-risk areas will have to spend 14 days in a quarantine hotel, instead of just seven for those who test positive for antibodies now.
That also means for overseas arrivals, seven-day isolation will only apply to fully vaccinated people coming from New Zealand, the only country on the list of low-risk areas.
Speaking in her weekly press briefing, the chief executive said the government is following experts’ advice to “err on the side of caution” in light of the Delta coronavirus variant.
“This [antibody test arrangement] has been in place and I understand many people have benefited from this arrangement. But exactly because of this arrangement, we are seeing breakthroughs – people who have been fully vaccinated but still being infected and confirmed positive while they were being quarantined, or in one case, while they had left the quarantine hotel,” she said.
A foreign helper who flew in from the United States was recently found to carry the more contagious L452R mutant strain after she had finished her seven-day quarantine.
Lam said she didn’t think the previous rule had created a loophole in terms of preventing imported cases, saying it was rolled out to accommodate people’s needs.
She said the Food and Health Bureau will issue a statement later to explain details of the policy change.