Govt tightens quarantine measures, beefs up testing

The Government announced on Thursday that it was beefing up infection control measures at designated quarantine hotels.

The announcement follows the news that a man contracted a mutant strain of coronavirus at a quarantine hotel, leading to a cluster of variant cases in the community.

In a statement, the government said that in addition to existing ‘test-and-hold’ arrangements at the airport, new arrivals would also face further tests during quarantine, including one on day three after arrival. It said it also wanted to ensure that no cases slipped through the net for people facing shortened quarantine periods.

“Depending on the risk levels of places where the persons arriving at Hong Kong depart from and the applicable compulsory quarantine periods, the number of tests these persons subject to during compulsory quarantine will also be increased to two (for 7-day compulsory quarantine period) to four times (for 21-day compulsory quarantine period),” the statement said.

Additionally, people arriving from “extremely high-risk or very high-risk specified places” and fully vaccinated persons undergoing shortened quarantine periods would also face addtional compulsory tests after completing quarantine.

The government now requires those taking swabs at designated quarantine hotels to be either registered nurses or enrolled nurses with experience in infection control, and specimen collection. Contractors will also have to have at least one officer-in-charge of specimen collection who’s a qualified doctor or registered nurse.

Given the large number of returnees from some high-risk areas staying at some quarantine hotels, the government has advised hotels to lower their occupancy rate to 80 per cent or below. It’s also advised hotels to segregate guests from high-risk areas.

Hotel staff will also be tested every seven days, instead of every 14 days.