False positive landed us in quarantine, couple says

A couple who say they were needlessly forced to go into quarantine are planning to demand compensation from the government, citing reports that the Covid-19 case they were connected to was actually a false positive.

They were among some 50 staff and residents of Nina Hotel Tsuen Wan West who were sent into quarantine on April 20, after they were deemed to be close contacts of a housekeeper there who was ‘confirmed’ to have Covid-19 that day.

But the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) acknowledged three days later that the housekeeper subsequently tested negative for coronavirus, and they were consulting experts on whether her test was a false positive.

On April 25, the patient was discharged from hospital, even though she remains listed as a ‘confirmed’ case in CHP records.

The initial test had been administered by the BGI group, whose provision of mobile testing services has been suspended by the government pending an investigation into a spate of false positive cases.

Despite the housekeeper’s release, one couple told the media by telephone that they – as her close contacts – were forced to remain in quarantine for no discernible reason.

The husband, using the pseudonym ‘Raymond’, said it feels like they were put in ‘quarantine prison.’

“The one who [apparently] falsely tested positive has been discharged already, but we, who got no illnesses at all, are still here [at the quarantine hotel]. It feels like all of a sudden that our freedom were being taken away,” he complained.

He also further complained that his quarantine had kept him from getting his second dose of vaccine as scheduled, and that officials weren’t able to give him any answers.

“Besides a daily call reminding me and my wife to check my temperatures, none of the staff from the health department can answer my inquiries.”

Raymond added that he received several calls from nameless individuals identifying themselves as health officials, who said he shouldn’t trust media reports and to comply with the quarantine rule.

He said as far as he knows, he is supposed to remain in quarantine until Friday, and he would ask the government for compensation of around half a month’s salary.

Ramon Yuen of the Democratic Party, which is helping the couple, criticised the government arrangements, saying those who were quarantined should have been released at the same time as the housekeeper.

Responding to enquiries about the arrangements, the Department of Health said due to limited data, and concerns about the emergence of Covid-19 variants, experts believe the current quarantine requirement for close contacts of confirmed cases should be maintained until more evidence emerges to support a change.

Last updated: 2021-04-29 HKT 09:46