Gov’t given power to extend quarantine on arrival to not more than 28 days

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Chief Executive Carrie Lam. (SCREENSHOT: isd.gov.hk)

The Executive Council has given the government power to issue mandatory quarantine for all inbound travelers to not more than 28 days.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam in a press conference with other ministers on Wednesday said they have amended the ordinance to include this, which will empower the Secretary for Food and Health to order extensions of the quarantine period.

Food and health minister Prof. Sophia Chan also added that arrivals from the UK will have to be quarantined at the designated hotels for 21 days starting Thursday.

All arrivals from outside China currently need to undergo a two-week quarantine. During this period, they need to get tested upon arrival, on the 12th day in quarantine, and on either the 19th or 20th day out of isolation.

The threat of a more transmissible strain of COVID-19 from England prompted authorities to enhance quarantine measures and ban all flights from there.

Lam said the government also secured vaccines jointly developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. The developers are set to give 7.5 billion jabs, equal to those to be released by Chinese firm Sinovac, as well as German firm BioNTech partnering with mainland company Fosun.

In total, there will be 22.5 million vaccine doses available to the public through a free and voluntary city-wide immunisation scheme.

Lam said the public may choose which vaccine to take. Two doses of the same vaccine of choice should be administered.

Civil Service Secretary Patrick Nip said the coronavirus vaccine will be available to all Hong Kong citizens. But priority groups such as the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, and healthcare workers will be the first to get the doses.

The government also plans to establish an indemnity fund allotting financial aid to people who may experience severe side effects after immunisation.

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