Lift quarantine exemptions for consular staff: expert - RTHK
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Lift quarantine exemptions for consular staff: expert

2021-07-21 HKT 11:34
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  • Lift quarantine exemptions for consular staff: expert
Top microbiologist Ho Pak-leung on Wednesday urged the authorities to stop exempting foreign consular officers from quarantine if they come back from high-risk places for Covid-19.

Ho made the call after the son and daughter of the Saudi Arabian consul general reportedly tested preliminary positive while they were self-isolating at home, prompting authorities to impose an overnight lockdown of the Taikoo Shing block they live in.

Ho, from the University of Hong Kong, said it’s hard to ensure those who observe self-isolation at home don't come into contact with their neighbours.

"The virus can spread among consular officials… Even if you're the president or the prime minister, if you come from high-risk places you can still get infected," he said on an RTHK programme.

Ho noted that local and overseas experience shows home isolation is not a useful way to lower the risk of Covid spreading into the community.

The microbiologist said since the pandemic is still raging globally, he believes consular officials would understand if local authorities decided to adopt more stringent quarantine measures.

He also warned against further shortening the quarantine period for fully inoculated travellers, after a man who arrived from France tested positive for the coronavirus even though he had taken two doses of the BioNTech vaccine in April.

Ho said he expects to see more infected arrivals who are fully vaccinated.

But the microbiologist said it's too early to discuss whether to provide booster shots for inoculated people, as many in Hong Kong still haven't received a single shot yet.