Expert urges caution on shorter quarantine policy

A government adviser on the pandemic on Saturday called for caution ahead of a change under which the SAR will allow some arrivals to undergo shorter quarantine.

Starting from Monday, people arriving from medium-risk areas only need seven days in quarantine if they’ve been vaccinated and test positive for antibodies, instead of 14 days currently.

Asked if the new quarantine period was too short, David Hui, from Chinese University, said the government could tweak it if necessary.

“We’ll have to look at these people’s samples carefully. If they keep testing positive, we have to look at the Ct value. If it’s higher than 33 every time, it means there are dead [remnants of the] virus, which are not as transmissible. And if they have antibodies as well… the risk they pose to society isn’t high,” he explained.

“But if their Ct values are low, then we’ll have to be careful. I believe… the Department of Health will look at the data and make adjustments accordingly.”

Hui again called on people to get vaccinated, saying a 70 percent take-up rate may no longer be enough to prevent outbreaks.

“When the virus first emerged, one person could pass it onto two to three people. So it was estimated that if 60 to 70 percent of the population have got the jabs, that could create a barrier,” he said.

“But now with the Delta mutant strain, one person can infect six people. Therefore, some infectious disease associations in the United States have proposed to raise the target to 80 to 90 of the population.”

He said the jabs can mitigate symptoms even if people were infected with mutant strains of Covid-19.