Coronavirus Update from China: Hong Kong to strengthen quarantine measures amid influx of inbound travelers from overseas

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HONG KONG — The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government will introduce a string of strengthened entry health quarantine measures after the compulsory quarantine arrangement on travelers arriving from overseas takes effect on Thursday, HKSAR government’s secretary for food and health Sophia Chan said late on Wednesday.

Expecting an influx of travelers from overseas in the coming days, the HKSAR government will strengthen entry quarantine measures at the Hong Kong International Airport to prevent imported COVID-19 cases, including requiring all inbound travelers who will undergo compulsory quarantine to wear positioning hand bands and expanding the scope of virus testing to some of the inbound travelers.

Starting from 0:00 a.m. local time on Thursday, when the compulsory quarantine arrangement takes effect, some of the inbound travelers will be randomly selected and provided with saliva collection cups to collect specimens for virus testing.

With tens of thousands of people expected to return from overseas to Hong Kong in the coming one or two weeks, the HKSAR government is also considering measures to help deal with the entry health quarantine for a large number of inbound travelers, including setting up triage stations at a hospital and the AsiaWorld-Expo near the airport, Sophia Chan said.

Hong Kong has seen a remarkably increasing number of imported COVID-19 cases recently, Chan noted, adding that the focus of the HKSAR government’s epidemic prevention and control work has shifted to preventing the virus from being imported from overseas and stopping imported cases from spreading in the community.

The HKSAR government published in the Gazette on Wednesday the Compulsory Quarantine of Persons Arriving at Hong Kong from Foreign Places Regulation (Cap. 599E), introducing a resolute and rigorous measure to combat the global outbreak of the COVID-19 by imposing compulsory quarantine orders on all persons arriving from all places outside China.

The Regulation commenced at 0:00 a.m. on Thursday and will take effect for three months. Contravening the quarantine requirement would be a criminal offense subject to a maximum fine of 25,000 Hong Kong dollars (about 3,219 U.S. dollars) and imprisonment for six months.

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