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HK shortens quarantine of local close contacts to 14 days

10 January 2022

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Quarantine for local cases is being shortened because Penny's Bay is running out of space

Health officials have announced that from today, Jan. 10, the quarantine period for close contacts of locally acquired cases of Covid-19 will be shortened to 14 days, from the previous 21 days.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan from the Centre for Health Protection said in today’s press briefing that the decision was reached after experts noticed that the Omicron has a much shorter incubation period than previously identified variants, particularly Delta.

Omicron infections show up within days, and rarely, if ever, take 14 days before being detected, said Chuang.


Another factor was that because of a recent surge in the number of people testing positive within the community, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of close contacts that need to be moved to quarantine centers.

Among this was the cluster of cases detected from the birthday party on Jan 3 of Whitman Hung, a delegate to the National People’s Congress. Chuang said it is now known that at least 214 people had been to the gathering, and 104 of those identified as close contacts have been sent to Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre, including top government officials.

As of this morning about 900 units were shown to be available at Penny’s Bay, but Chuang said that some 800 people were waiting to enter the quarantine facility. This means there may not soon be enough space for all those who need to be moved there.


But she said in response to queries that the government has no similar plans to reduce the quarantine period for those coming from overseas, most of whom are required to spend 21 days in isolation.

Currently local close contacts of cases with mutant strains are required to spend 21 days in quarantine, counting from the last day of exposure.

While this has been cut to 14 days from today, the close contacts will continue to be tested frequently while in quarantine, and after release, must still observe seven days of self-monitoring. They should also submit themselves to compulsory testing on day 19 after their last day of exposure to the local case.

Chuang also reported 24 newly confirmed cases of Covid-19, of which 19 were imported and five are locally acquired, with one of them untraceable.

Press for details

She mentioned seven preliminary linked positive cases, including two relatives of a 3-year-old who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 which he acquired from a dance cluster in the Causeway Bay area.

The two preliminary cases, a 36-year-old female and a 38-year-old male, went strawberry picking on Jan 2. Chuang said the woman apparently caught the virus during this activity, but she developed a fever only on Jan.9

Chuang said one of the preliminary cases caught the virus while picking strawberries on Jan 2
The man went to play football with friends on Jan 4 in Aberdeen, and tested negative on Jan 4 and 5.

Another case is that of the father of a 36-year-old woman who worked parttime at SOGO department store but spent much of her time at a family-owned pharmacy at Hands Shopping Centre in Tuen Mun.

Chuang said she believes the man caught the virus before his daughter as he started feeling unwell on Jan 1 but did not seek medical attention.


After further investigation, she said a “breakthrough” was reached as it turned out that a Cathay pilot who previously tested positive, had visited the family’s pharmacy on Dec 27. Thus, the cases of both father and daughter are now classified as import-related.

Another preliminary case pertains to the 32-year-old female employer of one of the four Indonesian domestic workers linked to the dance cluster in Causeway Bay. The employer works as a sales person at the Dior store at the Landmark in Central and had been at Penny’s Bay since Jan 6.

Other cases include a 33-year-old woman who works in a design firm in Kwun Tong and shared a flat with two confirmed cases, a 52-year-old unvaccinated man who was moved to Penny’s Bay on Jan 8 and started running a fever and coughing the next day; and a 16-year-old female student at Canossa College who attended a singing class in Tin Hau and dined at a food hall on Wharf Road before being moved to PBQC on Jan 8.

Confirmed positive cases on the other hand include a 66-year-old female suspected of having caught the virus from three infected neighbors who live five floors below her in Mei Sun building in Tai Po.

A second overnight lockdown of their residential building did not yield any new case. About 40 environmental samples were taken, and all came back negative except for four which had inconclusive testing results.

Also confirmed was an 88-year-old woman whose relative gave a foot massage to the index patient in the dance cluster. The masseuse tested positive earlier, so the elderly woman who is unvaccinated and  lives in Shau Kei Wan, was sent to PBQC as a close contact.

The last notable case is that of 43-year-old woman who accompanied her friend Celia Wong to Hung’s birthday party in Wanchai on Jan 3. 

The woman who works at iCable TV building in Tsuen Wan joined three other friends in a restaurant for food and drinks before going to the party at 9:30pm.

She and her friends who crashed the party were not on the guest list. Chuang fears they were more like them who have yet to be identified. She urged them to step forward so they could be tested.

Meanwhile, the Omicron count in Hong Kong rose to 265 today, after 18 more cases were identified following full genome sequencing analysis.

The CHP also imposed a two-week suspension on two passenger flights that arrived in Hong Kong on Jan 7:

       Flight SQ007 operated by Singapore Airlines carried eight passengers from San Francisco, USA who tested positive on arrival; and 

       Flight NH811 operated by All Nippon Airways which came with six passengers who were found infected on arrival from Tokyo, Japan.

Both passenger flights will be banned from landing in Hong Kong until Jan 24.

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