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Quarantine rules may still be tightened if untraceable variant found

09 May 2021

 By Vir B. Lumicao 

Dr Chan says stricter quarantine rules will be enforced if the variant's source is unknown

Health Secretary Dr Sophia Chan says quarantine rules may still be tightened for residents of buildings with confirmed patients carrying mutant variants if such cases have no known sources.

She made the statement in a television program today, May 9, to clarify the policy shift announced on Friday that people living in buildings with mutated strains need not spend 21 days’ quarantine in a government facility.


“We think that the newly adjusted measures are appropriate as they were rolled out after our well-thought-out consideration with the experts taking into account the latest infection data and the epidemic situation. The existing variant cases were traceable with an identifiable source,” Chan said.

“We will keep a close eye on the situation. If there is an unknown source for new variant cases, we won’t rule out adjusting the current Covid-19 control measures,” she added.

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Under the adjusted measures, residents in variant-infected blocks will be allowed to quarantine at home but should submit themselves to four periodic tests.

Only those living in the same household as an infected person or staying in environments such as subdivided flats will have to undergo full quarantine.


The policy shift was announced after health officials said they had successfully stopped the spread of a mutated variant of the virus first found in a 29-year-old Indian man who tested positive days after completing his 21-day hotel quarantine.

Seven other infected people have been linked directly to the index patient, who together with his Filipina girlfriend, face charges of withholding information from contact-tracers. They are scheduled to appear in Kowloon City court tomorrow.

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Delays in confirming the pair’s whereabouts during the infection period led health officials to lock down several residential blocks and send thousands of residents to quarantine. It also prompted mandatory testing of all FDHs in the city.

All residents of the building where the infected couple lived were sent to quarantine centers 

Meanwhile, only one coronavirus case was confirmed today by Hong Kong health officials, pertaining to an asymptomatic female passenger who arrived from Argentina on May 7 and later tested positive for the N501Y variant.

The Centre for Health Protection said the 52-year-old woman arrived on Emirates flight EK384 from Dubai via Bangkok.

The new patient took to 11,808 the total number of confirmed cases in Hong Kong.


Fewer than five preliminary positive cases were found, a CHP staff said.

Earlier, the president of the Hong Kong Medical Association, warned in an RTHK program that vaccination is the only hope against Covid-19, which could be here to stay, unlike the Sars outbreak in 2003.

But Dr Gabriel Choi Kin said distrust of the government is holding back efforts to get as many residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love.

He noted that only around 12 percent of qualified residents have taken at least one dose of the vaccine, which is a long shot away from the 70 percent needed for a place to attain herd immunity.

“Trust of the authority is an issue which dictates whether the citizens will want to get vaccinated or not,” Choi said, adding the offered incentives for fully vaccinated people are complicated and not interesting enough to get the jab.

But he said the even with herd immunity variant strains could still be a threat, so border controls should remain strict and adequate.

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