'Put arrivals from Africa in Penny's Bay for 21 days' - RTHK
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'Put arrivals from Africa in Penny's Bay for 21 days'

2021-11-29 HKT 10:47
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  • 'Put arrivals from Africa in Penny's Bay for 21 days'
University of Hong Kong microbiologist Ho Pak-leung on Monday urged the government to put fully vaccinated Hongkongers returning from eight African countries in quarantine camps for 21 days, to prevent the spread of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Speaking on an RTHK programme, Ho said it’s "strange" for the government to require them to spend only seven days at the Penny’s Bay quarantine centre before moving them to quarantine hotels for another two weeks of isolation.

“The government hasn’t explained why it’s adopting such a strange arrangement. I believe there wouldn’t be a great number of passenger flights from the eight countries in southern Africa… And if we are not expecting a lot of Hongkongers returning from these places, there’s no need to move them around,” he said.

“It will involve a lot of administrative work, and may not be so appropriate for the travellers. They have to book quarantine hotels, and there are some loopholes at quarantine hotels which haven’t been plugged,” Ho added.

“If you’ve decided to quarantine them for 21 days, just complete it at Penny’s Bay,” he said.

Unvaccinated Hong Kong residents and non-residents from these countries are banned from entering Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, infectious disease expert David Hui said it helps for travellers to spend their first week at a quarantine centre, but if there are enough rooms, the government can put them there for the entire quarantine period.

“After all, ventilation at Penny’s Bay is better. The risk faced by staff members collecting specimen will be much lower. Also, the Department of Health has analysed around 500 recent imported cases and found that 92 percent were identified in the first seven days. It means the risk is highest in the first week,” said Hui.

Both experts agreed that even though Covid vaccines may not be as effective against Omicron as they are against other variants, they will still help prevent serious symptoms.