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Current quarantine arrangement flawed, says expert

2020-07-02 HKT 15:38
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  • Dr Leung Chi-chiu says authorities should review the current quarantine arrangement as virus cases are rising in places like the US. File photo: RTHK
    Dr Leung Chi-chiu says authorities should review the current quarantine arrangement as virus cases are rising in places like the US. File photo: RTHK
A medical expert has warned a local coronavirus infection reported at a Tai Wai housing estate has revealed a loophole in the quarantine measures being implemented for arrivals in the city, and urged authorities to put in place stricter measures for visitors from the United States.

A 46-year-old woman who had not travelled outside Hong Kong recently came down with Covid-19 on Tuesday. She is believed to have contracted the virus from family members who had returned from the US and were undergoing home quarantine.

Dr Leung Chi-chiu, from the Hong Kong Medical Association, said he believes that the incident reflects a loophole in home quarantine arrangements, as in many overseas regions, especially the United States, the epidemic situation has rebounded.

People arriving from these places are now quarantined at home and it increases the risk of transmission of the virus to relatives, he said.

Currently only people who are arriving from places classified as high-risk areas, like India and Pakistan, are placed at designated quarantine centres. Others are allowed to return home and undergo 14-day quarantine there.

He urged the government to change this to reduce the risk of community outbreaks, saying any "spill leakage" could lead to the society paying a “heavy price”.

The authorities should require family members of the quarantined persons to quickly inform authorities if they have Covid-19 symptoms, he said, so cases can be treated as soon as possible.

Leung said when home quarantine arrangements were introduced several months ago, some people temporarily moved out or stayed at hotels so avoid contact with quarantined family members.