Increase quarantine for vaccinated returnees: experts - RTHK
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Increase quarantine for vaccinated returnees: experts

2021-08-14 HKT 16:19
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  • Hong Kong reports two imported Covid-19 cases on Saturday, both of them are fully vaccinated. Image: Shutterstock
    Hong Kong reports two imported Covid-19 cases on Saturday, both of them are fully vaccinated. Image: Shutterstock
Infectious disease experts on Saturday urged the government to review its quarantine policies for fully vaccinated travellers, saying they should be quarantined for at least 14 days instead of seven.

This comes after a fully vaccinated foreign domestic helper, who returned from the United States, tested positive for Covid-19 five days after her seven-day quarantine ended.

The woman, who works at a house in Stanley, carried the more contagious L452R mutant strain, but was asymptomatic.

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) added the woman, 38, tested negative just before and after she flew back on flight CX883 on August 1.

Authorities have ordered people who've visited the same places as the helper, including Stanley Plaza, to get tested before August 15.

Under the latest quarantine arrangements, people arriving from medium-risk countries can have their quarantine shortened to seven days if they're fully vaccinated and their anti-body test is positive.

Professor David Hui from Chinese University said the latest case shows a seven-day-quarantine is not enough, and it should be increased to 14 days plus another seven day self-monitoring.

Hui, who's a government adviser on the pandemic, said an expert CHP panel will discuss the matter on Monday.

Another expert, Leung Chi-chiu, agreed that the quarantine arrangement should be tightened immediately.

"It was a mistake to classify the United States as a medium risk country. In fact, if you can look at the incidence of Delta variant in the United States [it] is no different from what's happening now in the United Kingdom," Leung told RTHK.

"There's absolutely no basis to classify the two countries differently," he added.

UK is currently placed in the 'high risk' category and people who return from Britain need to be quarantined for 21 days.

Leung said authorities need to act quickly on contact tracing.

"The virus can spread very quickly within a few days, especially if they go into, for example, Sunday functions , meeting with other domestic helpers or if they go to some of the exhibitions now in Hong Kong, or other high risk activities. It could be [a] nightmare," he said.

Including the foreign domestic helper case, health authorities reported two imported Covid cases on Saturday. The other patient is a fully vaccinated 56-year-old man who also returned from the United States.