Arrival quarantine should be cut to 14 days: expert

An expert who helps the government identify Covid-19 transmission chains in Hong Kong has called on the authorities to consider reducing the quarantine period for people arriving in the city from 21 days to 14 days.

Speaking on an RTHK show, Gilman Siu from Polytechnic University’s department of health technology and informatics said the median incubation period for the Omicron variant is around three days, and cases can normally be detected within seven days.

He warned that keeping people in quarantine hotels for too long could actually increase infection risks.

“I agree that we should cut the quarantine period from 21 to 14 days… Quarantine hotels are not hospitals. There is a chance that transmissions can occur in the hotels,” he said.

“People would get infected when they are almost done with their quarantine and would develop symptoms only when they enter the community. These situations are not ideal.”

Siu also urged the authorities to test people daily during their first week of quarantine, as the Omicron variant tends to cause infections sooner.

The associate professor also expressed concern that untraceable infections might emerge in the coming days, as six people who dined at the Moon Palace restaurant in Kowloon Tong – the centre of the latest outbreak – were still unaccounted for as of Monday.

Siu said these people could be asymptomatic carriers and could cause second- or third-generation transmissions.