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OFW reports hassle-free quarantine process at HK airport

21 March 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

Gina with her wristband that is yet to be activated

One of the first Filipinos to fly into Hong Kong on the day mandatory quarantine for all incoming passengers took effect says it was smooth sailing at the airport throughout.

But there is just one hiccup: her wrist monitor which is supposed to track her movements while on home quarantine has yet to work, more than 24 hours since she landed at Chek Lap Kok airport. Hers is not an isolated case, however, as authorities confirmed earlier today that a third of the 6,000 wristbands that had been issued were still not working.

Gina O., who flew with her employer aboard Cathay Pacific’s CX 918 flight which arrived in Hong Kong at about 8:30pm on Mar 19, says it took them only a few minutes to clear the airport.

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On landing, they went through the regular thermal scanners which checked their body temperature. “Relaxed naman silang lahat,” she recalled. “Nagkukuwentuhan pa nga.”

But the seamless process started while they will still aboard the plane, she said. Each passenger was handed three pieces of document: a compulsory quarantine form, a home quarantine booklet, and an instruction manual for the Stay Home Safe mobile application.
 
Screen capture of Gina's quarantine declaration form, which warns of the penalty for violators
In the quarantine form, passengers are asked to write down their names, identity document number, their home address or the place they nominate as their intended quarantine address, and contact number.

“May pagpipilian ka. Kung gusto mong sa bahay, sa hotel, o iba pang address kung saan gusto mong mag quarantine,” Gina said. “Basta lagi lang nilang sinasabi, yung address kung saan ka tutuloy habang naka-quarantine.”

The home quarantine booklet, on the other hand, lists down what the confinee must observe, including staying “in a single, well-ventilated room if possible” and to stay at least one meter away from another person inside the house.

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The guidelines also include tips on good personal and environmental hygiene, like not sharing personal items like towels with other people, and using serving chopsticks or spoons when eating together.

But the key to monitoring a quarantined person is the wristband that each must wear for the duration of the enforced isolation. This tracking device is hooked up to a mobile app, which wearers must activate upon reaching home.

The instruction booklet for the app says Government can monitor the wearer’s movements through the environmental electronic signals in the neighborhood. If a change in signals is detected, an alert is sent out, and monitors will ask the confinee to scan the QR code on their wristband to confirm their presence.

Do's and dont's while on quarantine are included in the booklet given to passengers

The declaration form carries the warning that violators of the mandatory quarantine will be fined $25,000 and imprisoned for six months.

The form also carries a date stamp which indicates up to when the home confinement should last. After that date, the wearer can simply cut and dispose of the wristband.  

In Gina’s form, the date stamped was Apr 2, which means she would have to stay indoors only for 12 days, two days short of the usual quarantine period.

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Told jokingly that she could still go out because her wristband had not yet been activated, Gina said she would not dare risk it. “Wala po akong pambayad ng $25,000. Ayaw ko ring makulong ng six months.”
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