Quarantine teams beefed up to deter runaways

Top News | Jane Cheung 17 Feb 2020

People under mandatory home quarantine will face more frequent checks as more officers from other disciplinary forces are assigned to join police inspection teams.

Alongside police officers, staff from the fire services, immigration, customs, and correctional services departments will share the duty from today, the government said on its Facebook page.

The decision follows arrest warrants issued on two people who breached their quarantine orders on February 8. They were found on Wednesday, though details of where they had been were not revealed.

Controller of the Centre for Health Protection Wong Ka-hing has said those violating quarantine orders could be prosecuted and may face a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a HK$25,000 fine.

As of Saturday, 7,858 people had been placed under a 14-day quarantine period, with 90 percent of them Hong Kong residents required to stay at home. Mainlanders and foreigners non-permanent residents must stay in isolation centers or hotels.

Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said arrivals had fallen 90 percent compared to before the implementation of quarantine measures. He said the total arrivals figure fell from 217,065 on January 26 before the first boundary closures to 23,399 on February 8.

"[The number] further went down to 16,764 people on February 14 with 81 percent being Hong Kong residents. The rest of them came from the mainland - 4 percent - and other regions - 15 percent," he said.

However, the closure of 10 of the 13 border points has contributed to panic buying with Cheung assuring the public that food supplies have remained normal.

"To make sure food supplies from the mainland are not affected, cross-boundary truck drivers have been exempted from mandatory quarantine, but they are under medical observation," he said.

He said there are 25 million kilograms of rice in stock - sufficient for the one-month consumption of all Hong Kong residents - and frozen meat storage is sufficient for three to four months of consumption.

Add to that, there is a daily import of 300,000 kilograms of meat, including beef, pork, lamb and poultry.

Cheung said the government vegetable wholesale market, under the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, supplies around 1,000 tonnes of veggies daily to local markets.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor yesterday inspected the Pat Heung Junior Police Call center in Yuen Long, which is being remodeled as a quarantine center with 90 flats.

Modification works are expected to finish this month, while compact structures are being built on idle land in the center for 100 additional units by the end of April.

jane.cheung@singtaonewscorp.com

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