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Health official puzzled by health certificate demand

2020-03-09 HKT 18:26
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  • Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan says she doesn't know where people can obtain health certificates for flights amid the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: RTHK
    Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan says she doesn't know where people can obtain health certificates for flights amid the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: RTHK
Health officials in Hong Kong have shot down the idea of health certificates for travellers after some countries announced only those with a clean bill of health will be allowed to enter those places.

Thailand in an updated restriction had said on Monday that visitors from Hong Kong will need a "health certificate" stating they "have no risk of Covid-19". In addition, people arriving in Thailand from the SAR will face 14 days of quarantine, officials said.

Hong Kong Airlines, meanwhile, said all passengers from China, including Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Korea, Italy and Iran have to “present a health certificate certifying they have no risk of coronavirus disease to be allowed to board the flight”.

Asked about such health certificates, Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan from the Centre for Health Protection said she was not sure how people could prove they are free of the novel coronavirus and that they are suitable to fly.

“Health proof for flights… I’ve never heard of it. I don’t know how people can prove they’re free of the novel coronavirus, because the tests are not available at private clinics," said Chuang.

"Perhaps some private hospitals have the test kits. I don’t know if they can issue such proof,” she said.

Currently, all tests for the novel coronavirus are being carried out by the government and the University of Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, a driver of an Indian businessman who had come down with Covid-19 has also been confirmed to have the illness.

The 44-year-old man picked up his employer, who travelled to Paris and London, at Hong Kong airport on March 4. They lived together in Mid-levels.

The driver was sent to a quarantine centre on March 6 after his employer was diagnosed with the disease.

He subsequently fell ill and was confirmed to have contracted the virus.

Hong Kong has so far reported 115 novel coronavirus infections. Three of the patients have died while 59 have been discharged.