Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday she will personally look into whether the city's three-week quarantine requirement for inbound travelers can be brought back into line with other places, confessing that the rules are taking a huge physical and psychological toll on people, RTHK reports.
Hong Kong began quarantining incoming travelers for two weeks at designated hotels in December, to prevent imported coronavirus
cases. However, the quarantine requirement was extended to 21 days as a preventative measure, after experts said some cases could incubate for longer than 14 days.
There are a few exemptions, including for people who arrive in the city from the mainland, Macau or Taiwan, who can instead choose to quarantine at home for 14 days.
At a press briefing before the weekly Executive Council meeting, Lam was asked whether she was worried that the city’s current quarantine requirements will put the city behind other financial centers.
She admitted that the requirement is "very stringent", but said there had been about "10 or so" instances where a positive Covid
-19 case was detected after a person had spent their 14th day in quarantine.
"I certainly am fully and acutely aware of the pressure that this has put on a lot of people, not only just business travelers but a lot of people," Lam said. "To be isolated for 21 days is a huge load in terms of physical, psychological and other aspects."
Lam said she would personally look into the matter to see whether this isolation requirement could be reduced, while also assuring public health officials that safeguards are in place, such as medical surveillance, to ensure these people would not spread the coronavirus
to the community.
"I certainly realize that since the latter half of November, now almost four months, with all these very stringent measures, it does give us the relief in terms of the cases coming down very significantly," Lam said. "But we would need to also take into account the interests, the benefits and the needs of other people."