Infectious disease experts said on Friday that it is important to step up infection control measures and plug all loopholes at quarantine hotels to prevent the spread of mutant strains of the coronavirus which are circulating around the world.
The government has announced that more Covid tests would be carried out on returnees put under quarantine and test samples must be taken by qualified nurses.
Respiratory medicine specialist Dr Leung Chi-chiu welcomed the new requirements but said all sampling should be done inside people’s rooms.
“We need to improve the environmental control measures at the hotels so that the sampling can be done in a safer environment. For example, we need to improve the air change inside the narrow corridors in the hotel and the sampling should be done inside the hotel rooms rather than the corridors,” he said.
Dr Joseph Tsang from the Medical Association added that different testing firms could be deployed to carry out the tests to ensure better accuracy.
His comments came after it was revealed that private laboratory BGI had several testing blunders over the past few weeks, including the failure to detect a patient infected with a highly infectious mutant strain.
“As multiple tests will be done on the returnees, different testing firms can be used to test the returnees at different times. As different firms use different testing agents and methods, they may complement each other to catch the mutated virus,” Tsang said.
Evidence has shown that a man who flew in from Dubai in March contracted a coronavirus variant at a quarantine hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, leading to a cluster of infections in the community.