Kowloon City hotel could increase virus infection risks

Local | 21 Apr 2020 12:27 pm

A public health expert said today that a plan by the government to turn a hotel in Kowloon City into a quarantine center as part of beefed-up health checks for people flying in is not cost effective and might increase infection risks, RTHK reports.
From Wednesday, all air passengers will be required to stay either at a testing centre at Asia-World Expo near the airport or at the Regal Oriental Hotel, until their coronavirus test results are in.
Speaking on an RTHK program, Dr Leung Chi-chiu of the Hong Kong Medical Association said staff at the hotel might be at risk as they will have to clean a large number of rooms on a daily basis.
He added that the location of the hotel is “not ideal” as the long journey from the airport to Kowloon City might slightly the increase risk of cross-infection among the inbound travelers.
“The travelers will only stay at the hotel for one night. Hotel staff have to clean the rooms every time they leave. Although the travelers may test negative for the virus, their luggage may be contaminated and there may be false negative cases,” he said.
Leung urged the government to arrange transport for the passengers to leave the Kowloon City district to prevent them from roaming around in the community, even after they test negative for the virus.
“It’s problematic that hundreds of passengers will be brought in and out of the hotel. Some of them must have been infected. There might be cross-infection in the process and false negative cases. It isn’t an ideal arrangement,” he said.
Speaking ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting, the Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, sought to allay public concerns over the plan.
“I’d like to stress that these people are not infected. They just have to wait for their test results. People in the community don’t have to worry about it. Of course we’ll put in place infection control measures,” she said.
She said the hotel was needed to hold some of the passengers as they wait for their test results for coronavirus, as Asia-World Expo could not accommodate all of them. She noted that the number of passengers arriving in the city each day has ranged between 200 and 800 recently.
Meanwhile, Professor David Hui of the Chinese University, who's on an expert panel tasked with advising Carrie Lam  on the pandemic, said they were not consulted over the plan to use the hotel as a quarantine center. But he said he thinks the location of the hotel is "not a big problem."

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