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Seal border or quarantine all arrivals: HKU expert

2020-02-04 HKT 13:06
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  • Seal border or quarantine all arrivals: HKU expert
Gabriel Leung
The dean of the University of Hong Kong's medical school said on Tuesday that Hong Kong's best bet to slow the spread of the Wuhan virus in the territory is to bar anyone arriving from places with community outbreaks – essentially meaning the entire mainland.

Gabriel Leung said should this not be possible, then all people arriving in the city from areas affected should be quarantined, and not just those who have been in Hubei province.

Leung said such quarantine orders must be backed up by legal and technological measures, and relying on people to be honest about their travel history is not sufficient.

"The risk can never be zero. But how do we minimise it further? There are two ways. One is to make sure that there are zero inbound passengers from places where there is already evidence of local transmission," he said.

"If for whatever reason, logistical, practical or otherwise, that is not possible ... then what you must do is to consider how we can make sure that the honour system is actually honourable. I think legal means, with legal consequences, are necessary, and then secondly, use technology. I was very pleased to see that there are wristbands, with IT enablement, to track that home quarantine persons are indeed homebound."

Hong Kong has now closed almost all its border crossings due to the virus epidemic, but Shenzhen Bay, the airport and the bridge to Macau and Zhuhai are still open.

Anybody who arrives in the city and declares they have been to Hubei over the previous two weeks is being placed in quarantine for 14 days, as are any close contacts of people known to be infected with the virus.