Anyone arriving in Hong Kong from countries other than China must from November 13 undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine in a hotel to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 at home.
The city recorded nine new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, including two more linked to a growing cluster from a staycation holiday in Mui Wo’s Silvermine Bay and a local untraceable infection of an office worker.
The new quarantine arrangement was announced on Tuesday hours after the city leader revealed that members of the public who needed to prove their health status could sign up for coronavirus screening at a cost of HK$240 (US$31) at government testing centres, to be launched in the middle of the month.
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Free Covid-19 testing would also be offered from next Monday for teachers and staff in public schools and kindergartens.
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A government statement said that people who had been to places other than mainland China, Macau and Taiwan within 14 days before coming to Hong Kong would need to provide proof of a room reservation in a hotel in the city for not fewer than two weeks. Previously, arrivals from low-risk countries could undergo the two-week quarantine period at home.
The new arrangement would be in place until further notice. But those who arrived in the city for transit or who were already exempted from quarantine would not be affected.
“We wanted to tighten the quarantine measures due to the worsening Covid-19 situation globally. In the past, there were a few cases who infected other family members while they were quarantining at home,” said Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch of the Centre for Health Protection.
Turkey, meanwhile, would be the latest to be added to the city’s list of countries of high Covid-19 risk, starting from November 13.
Fourteen countries are currently on the list. People arriving from those nations need to present a negative Covid-19 test result before coming to the city, and must quarantine in a hotel.
The latest measures received a qualified endorsement from the government’s coronavirus adviser, Chinese University’s Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, who, however, believed officials should add other virus hotspots such as Spain and Italy to the high-risk list, both of which are suffering a second wave of infections.
The respiratory medicine expert also wants the government to plug the remaining holes in the city’s border defences by revoking quarantine exemptions granted to key consular personnel from those 14 countries, after a diplomat from India was infected last month.
“Those high-ranking staff who can self-isolate in a single room in their consulates can do so. Others should do it in a hotel if they come from places with an overwhelming number of cases. They should have done it a long time ago.”
But Hui believed the