Large-scale quarantine facilities being shaped

Local | Jane Cheung 20 Jul 2020

The AsiaWorld-Expo next to the airport will house a large quarantine center.

And 2,000 more isolation units will be built in Penny's Bay near Disneyland as Hong Kong prepares for fresh Covid-19 surges, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yeut-ngor said.

"We are still studying how many units the expo can provide, but it can serve as a quarantine center," she said. The first batch of isolation units will be available next week.

The expo has been used as a Covid-19 test center for arrivals at the airport since March.

Lam also said Fo Tan's Chun Yeung Estate will be returned to the Housing Authority for public housing tenants to move in.

That comes after 800 units at Penny's Bay quarantine facility went into service yesterday, and 700 more will be ready in late September.

Lam said there will be funds to build 2,000 more quarantine units in Penny's Bay to come into service by year-end. Experts expect new waves of Covid-19 outbreaks in winter.

Meanwhile, Lam and a government spokesman claimed exempting quarantine for certain travelers did not trigger the third wave, saying the arrangement was essential for operations of SAR society and its economy.

Their rejections came after experts blamed the continuing and biggest wave of infections on quarantine loopholes.

And government adviser David Hui Shu-cheong of the Chinese University said "patient zero" - a key spreader of the virus - could be a seafarer or flight crew member exempted from quarantine.

But the spokesman said no one who was exempted from quarantine or who arrived from the mainland, Macau and Taiwan had tested positive. He did not address the discovery of infected seafarers last month.

Health authorities had two weeks ago tightened a policy to waive quarantine and allowed exempted travelers, including air and sea crews, to be tested at AsiaWorld-Expo.

On another front, vendors and customers at three wet markets - Ngau Chi Wan, Sham Shui Po's Pei Ho Street and Tsz Wan Shan Centre, - were also infected.

That led to food and environmental hygiene department staff on Friday cleaning the first two markets, while the third and its built-in wet market were closed on Friday and Saturday for sterilization by Link REIT.

The department yesterday also started a three-day cleaning program in 12 public wet markets in Kowloon by closing them at 7pm for disinfection, an hour earlier than usual.

Most people caught in the present virus wave live in or frequently visited Kowloon.

Kwun Tong's Shui Wo Street, Choi Hung's Tai Shing Street, Kowloon City and Cheung Sha Wan's Po On Road markets will be cleaned today and To Kwa Wan, Hung Hom, Tai Kok Tsui and Mei Foo's Lai Wan markets tomorrow.

A free scheme to test taxi drivers also began yesterday, with collection of saliva samples at car parks in Rumsey Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kwai Fong and Tsuen Wan.

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