Shorter quarantine hope for inoculated residents

Top News | Wallis Wang 5 May 2021

Quarantine for people who are fully vaccinated can be reduced to seven days, government adviser Ivan Hung Fan-ngai has proposed.

The government can also consider arranging home isolation for those people, said Hung, who is also the co-convener of an expert committee evaluating cases of serious complications or death following vaccination.

Under existing regulations, those who return from overseas should be quarantined in hotels ranging from 14 to 21 days, depending on their risk level. Those who live in the same block as cases of the more infectious mutant strain must be quarantined for 21 days.

Hung said the relaxation will not increase the risk of virus transmission because the jabs have proved effective against the mutant strain.

As an extra precaution, vaccinated people can be tested more frequently than the others in quarantine. They can also be subjected to antibody tests to be sure the vaccines are working.

Shortening the quarantine period could motivate more people to get vaccinated, increasing the vaccination rate in Hong Kong, Hung said.

A Caribbean Coast resident who is undergoing a 21-day quarantine despite being fully vaccinated welcomed Carrie Lam's decision to look into relaxing quarantine arrangements for those who received the full jabs.

The expat, a pilot who is a permanent resident, earlier told The Standard that he and his wife received two doses of the BioNTech shots. More than 14 days have passed since they had their second jabs.

But the two were still sent to the Penny's Bay quarantine center on April 30 with their two kids, aged five and seven, after a case of the mutant strain was found in their block.

The pilot said the quarantine arrangement for them would discourage people from getting jabs as they were treated the same as those who have not been vaccinated.

"I think any improvement on the current 21-day quarantine for fully vaccinated people is a welcome step in the right direction," he said.

"It would send a message to people that getting vaccinated is a good idea and may prevent them from the 21-day quarantine."

However, he said his family may not benefit even if the government later decides to relax quarantine rules, as his two kids are too young to receive vaccinations, and as a parent he would need to accompany them.

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