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HK starts mandatory quarantine for incoming travellers

20 March 2020

By The SUN

All arriving passengers in HK will be tested for Covid-19, and put under mandatory quarantine

All incoming travelers who want to be tested for free for Covid-19 infection can do so as soon as they arrive in Hong Kong.  But the service is open only to those who are aged 65 and above, or anyone who live with people in this age bracket.

The Centre for Health Protection made the announcement as Hong Kong began imposing a 14-day quarantine for all new arrivals from today, Mar 19. Only those arriving from Macau and Taiwan are exempted.

According to CHP, those who qualify for the free tests will be provided specimen containers at the Hong Kong International Airport. They are instructed to use these for their deep throat saliva sample which they must collect in the morning, then submit the containers to CHP on specified collection dates.


Tests on about 5,000 arriving passengers will be administered by the CHP each week.

From tomorrow, Mar. 20, those who exhibit upper respiratory symptoms will be taken to two new testing centers at the Asia World-Expo or the North Lantau Hospital, where they will  have to stay for about half a day, until laboratory results are known.

Both test centers have designated waiting areas for the travelers, who will also have free internet access and charging facilities.

The two measures are being taken in a bid to determine early Covid-19 cases.


Each arriving passenger will be given an electronic wristband which they are required to wear during the quarantine. They are monitored through a phone app linked to the electronic device.

The wrist monitor which each quarantined person must wear for 14 days (DWC photo)
Everyone on quarantine is told not to go out of their homes, or face sanctions. Violators face a maximum fine of $25,000 and/or imprisonment of up to six months.

As of this writing, the number of patients in Hong Kong who tested positive for the virus reached 208 as the CHP reported 16 new cases on Thursday.

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One was a pregnant 32-year-old woman who had a fever and a runny nose after returning from Italy and Dubai.

A second dog was also confirmed to have the virus.
 
But the CHP’s focus is now on the bars, restaurants and gyms in Lan Kwai Fong, after at least five of the patients confirmed in the last two days had links to the nightlife hub in Central.

“We are looking at whether there is a spread among bars and restaurants in Lan Kwai Fong,” Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the CHP communicable disease branch, said during her daily press conference.

She said three of the new cases had connections with the nightspot while two patients confirmed a day earlier also visited the bars there.
 
Five of the new cases are linked to Lan Kwai Fong (RTHK photo)
The CHP head said two new cases, both 29-year-old men, had been to the Pure Fitness gym in Central. They had been to Singapore or Japan, but before the incubation period.

Another newly confirmed patient had been to Lan Kwai Fong to drink with his friends before he tested positive, Chuang said.

The new cases were announced after CHP confirmed 25 more infected people on Mar 18, the biggest number recorded in a single day.

Meanwhile, at least eight hotels have offered a total of 1,000 rooms for use as quarantine facilities, as health officials expressed fear Hong Kong could run out of places in the coming weeks.

Globally, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has reached 217,845 as of this writing. The deaths totaled 9,177, while the number of recovered patients was 84,234.

China cases reached 80,928 but deaths remained at 3,245. In Italy, the new epicenter of the contagion, the number of cases jumped to 35,713, and the deaths surged to 2,978.


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