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Location-sharing new weapon in quarantine effort

2020-02-16 HKT 21:41
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  • Carrie Lam is shown how electronic monitors warn by people under mandatory quarantine works during a visit to the Shenzhen Bay Control Point. Photo courtesy of the Information Services Department
    Carrie Lam is shown how electronic monitors warn by people under mandatory quarantine works during a visit to the Shenzhen Bay Control Point. Photo courtesy of the Information Services Department
The government on Sunday said it’s tightening up checks of people who are quarantined after entering Hong Kong from the mainland, by requiring them to share their real-time location on their mobile phones with the authorities as soon as they cross the border.

Those who do not comply will have to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet instead, according to a government statement.

Since February 8, Hong Kong residents who return home from the mainland have been required to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days, or face a six-month jail term and HK$25,000 fine.

Non-residents have to stay in their hotels, other pre-arranged accomodations, or be kept in a quarantine camp.

The new measure is aimed at making sure they obey the quarantine.

Previously, there have been multiple reports of people repeatedly flouting the mandatory quarantine, disappearing without warning or even going to specialist clinics at public hospitals – without any apparent punishment.

Critics have accused the government of being too lax in enforcing the quarantine and endangering public safety.

A government spokesman noted that firefighters, along with immigration, customs, and correctional services department officials have joined the police in conducting spot checks of around 7,800 people currently under quarantine.

“Stressing that the Government will ensure the effective implementation of the compulsory quarantine, [Chief Executive Carrie Lam] said that if the persons under quarantine cannot be contacted, the Police will consider issuing wanted warrants against them”, the statement said.

“The Department of Justice and the Department of Health are considering prosecutions against offenders”, it added.

Lam and other top officials on Sunday inspected anti-epidemic work at various locations, including the Junior Police Call activity centre in Pat Heung, which is currently being converted into a quarantine centre.

The spokesman said 90 units are expected to be ready by the end of the month, and 100 more is expected to be completed in April.

The CE again appealed to the public to support government efforts to set up more quarantine facilities, in the wake of numerous protests against such plans, saying such facilities “are of paramount importance to anti-epidemic work”.

“Reiterating that the operation of the quarantine centres needs to comply with stringent requirements with law enforcement and healthcare officers on duty round the clock, she said that people subject to quarantine will be transferred in and out of the centres by dedicated vehicles and not allowed to move freely in the community”, the statement said. “The facilities therefore have only minimal impacts on residents nearby.”