Covid-19: Hong Kong’s 21-day quarantine for travellers not necessary, says expert

Dr. Robert Chan, PhD of Chan Tayag Southeast Equities says the policy only makes sense if the aim is to deter arrivals and departures.

Hong Kong’s strict coronavirus quarantine arrangements, which impose a 21-day confinement period for fully vaccinated travellers from high-risk countries, are “unnecessarily long,” according to a health expert. 

Dr. Robert Chan, PhD, an Economist and Chairman of Chan Tayag Southeast Equities in Hong Kong told AdChoiceTV News that the three-week quarantine period only will make sense if the policy was designed to deter travellers from entering or leaving the city.

“Whenever you think about a policy, you have to think about the aim of policy,” Dr. Chan said on Tuesday. “If we are just thinking about a policy to stop infected people from coming in, then ten days [of quarantine] is enough, and 14 days is more than enough.”

“But if the policy is to discourage travellers from coming and people from leaving Hong Kong… and reduce the number of people coming because of the limited number of hotel rooms, then 21 days makes sense,” he said. 

“Extending to 21 days can reduce the overall number of travellers, but that could also be achieved by reducing the number of quarantine hotel rooms available for booking.”

Singapore announced last Friday it was shortening its mandatory quarantine period from 14 days to ten in view of the Delta variant’s shorter incubation period.

Mandatory quarantine

Hong Kong’s quarantine arrangements differ according to where travellers board their flight and whether they are fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated Hong Kong residents from “high risk countries” and unvaccinated travellers from “medium-risk” countries must all serve 21 days of hotel quarantine.

Fully vaccinated foreign domestic workers from the Philippines and Indonesia are also required to serve three weeks. 

Hong Kong’s quarantine measures are among the strictest in the world, and have been strongly criticised by the city’s international business community.

The European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong slammed the regulations, saying they jeopardised its role as an international financial centre.

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The city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has nonetheless ruled out any alternatives to her government’s “zero-Covid” strategy.

Hong Kong’s infections have remained low since June. It reported two new infections on Tuesday, both of which were imported. As of Tuesday, the city of 7.4 million had recorded 12,147 infections since the start of the pandemic with 213 deaths.

Reporting by Sean Tyler Chan

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