Shorter quarantine period proposed for vaccinated travellers with Covid-19 antibodies

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(SCREENSHOT FROM VIDEO: Hong Kong International Airport)

Government scientific advisers said Wednesday the quarantine period of inbound travellers from medium-risk countries could be cut down to seven days if they test positive for Covid-19 antibodies.

Two scientific panels under the Centre for Health Protection made the recommendation on Wednesday evening, along with supporting the move to lower the age threshold for those receiving the BioNTech vaccine to 12.

In a press conference late Wednesday, CHP Controller Dr. Ronald Lam said the suggestions were made “in response to scientific evidence.”

The quarantine period could be shortened if they show proof of their complete inoculation against Covid-19, and if they yield both a negative coronavirus test result and a positive antibody test result upon arrival.

“But even so, they have to undergo self-monitoring as well and plus, we also impose multiple testing during their quarantine period,” Lam said.

Fully-vaccinated arrivals from Australia and New Zealand, both specified “low-risk” countries, currently only need to undergo quarantine for seven days.

The recommendation could halve quarantine periods for travellers from medium-risk places with complete Covid-19 vaccine doses, who are still required to confine themselves at a hotel for 14 days.

Experts, however, advised against adjusting quarantine measures for those coming in from “extremely high-risk” and “very high-risk” areas.

The Philippines is among the six “extremely high-risk” countries specified by the government—along with Brazil, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and South Africa. Ireland is the only country under the “very high-risk” category.

Countries specified as “high-risk” areas for Covid-19 infection are Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Vietnam.

Other countries outside Mainland China, Macau, and Taiwan are considered medium-risk.