8th December 2022 – (Hong Kong) The Government announced today that starting from tomorrow, persons infected with COVID-19 may be discharged from isolation on Day 5 at the earliest if they obtain negative rapid antigen test (RAT) results on both Day 4 and Day 5 of the isolation period. For close contacts of infected persons, they will be discharged from quarantine on Day 5 if negative results are obtained in all the daily RATs during the five-day quarantine period, and are not required to undergo further tests. Daily RAT requirement for inbound persons from Taiwan or overseas places is also adjusted to until Day 5 after arrival at Hong Kong.
Under the existing arrangement, infected persons who have not been vaccinated or have only received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine are required to undergo isolation for 14 days. Those who have received at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccines can be discharged early from isolation after obtaining negative RAT results on both Day 6 and Day 7 (or any two consecutive days thereafter). In regard to close contacts of infected persons, they are required to undergo quarantine for 14 days. Those who have received at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccines can be discharged early from quarantine after obtaining negative RAT results on both Day 6 and Day 7.
In view of the latest epidemic development and risk assessment, and considering the experience of shortening the quarantine period for certain targeted groups, the Government decided to adjust isolation, quarantine and testing arrangements applicable to all persons (regardless of their vaccination status) as follows –
- In principle, the isolation period for infected persons is still 14 days. If the infected persons obtain negative RAT results on both Day 4 and Day 5 after tested positive (the day following testing or collection of sample is counted as Day 1; if there is no such testing or sample collection record, the day on receiving the test result is counted as Day 1), they may be discharged from isolation early after reporting the testing result on Day 5. If they obtain one positive RAT result in any of these two days, they are required to undergo RATs and obtain negative results on any two subsequent consecutive days during the isolation period and report the testing results in order to be discharged from isolation.
- The quarantine period for close contacts is adjusted to five days. Close contacts are required to conduct daily RATs during the quarantine period. If they obtain negative results in all the daily RATs, they will be discharged from quarantine on Day 5. If any of the test results is positive, they should report to the Department of Health immediately.
The above arrangement will take effect from 0.00am tomorrow. The aforesaid arrangement of early discharge from isolation and quarantine will also be applicable to isolation orders and quarantine orders issued before the effective date which are still in force. For example, if Day 1 of the quarantine order of a close contact is 5th December, the person concerned (regardless of his or her vaccination status) may be discharged from quarantine early on 9th December after obtaining negative RAT results on 8th and 9th December. For infected persons, if Day 1 of the isolation order is 5th December, the person concerned (regardless of his or her vaccination status) may be discharged from isolation early on 9th December after obtaining negative RAT results on 8th and 9th December. However, if a positive result is obtained on 8th December while a negative is obtained on 9th December, the person is required to continue the isolation on 9th December. The person concerned may be discharged from isolation early on 10th December if a negative RAT result is obtained that day. The Government will gazette relevant notices of the aforesaid arrangements.
Besides, inbound persons from Taiwan and overseas places are currently required to undergo nucleic acid tests upon arrival at the airport in Hong Kong and on Day 2 after arrival at Hong Kong, as well as daily RATs after arrival until Day 7 after arrival at Hong Kong. They can only leave the place of stay after obtaining a negative result every day. With effect from tomorrow, relevant RAT requirements will be adjusted correspondingly. All inbound persons arriving at Hong Kong on 2nd December (i.e. 9th December being Day 7 after arrival at Hong Kong) and any date thereafter are only required to undergo RATs daily until Day 5 after their arrival at Hong Kong. The existing arrangements of “test-and-go” upon arrival at the airport and nucleic acid test on Day 2 after arrival at Hong Kong remain unchanged.
A Government spokesman said that the arrangements, which will take effect from tomorrow, are based on the principle of proper management of infection risk and the epidemic development. Relevant persons may resume normal lives as soon as possible as their risk of transmission has been proven to be at a very low level through successive RATs. Relevant arrangements are on par with the Government’s precise anti-epidemic strategy. In fact, a number of quarantine arrangements have been adjusted in recent months. For example, the quarantine period for residents of residential care homes who are classified as close contacts has been shortened to five days, and employees of the Hospital Authority who are close contacts may also resume duty early under certain circumstances.
The Government continues to urge the public to complete the recommended dosage of COVID-19 vaccines as early as possible. The vaccines are proven to be effective in reducing the risk of serious illness and death. Besides, members of the public should also receive seasonal influenza vaccination early so as to secure better protection in the event of co-infection with COVID-19 and influenza.
The spokesperson said, “The Government will continue to tackle the COVID-19 epidemic development under the principles of science-based and targeted anti-epidemic measures, as well as the proper management of risks and citizen-focused facilitation. The Government will also adjust anti-epidemic measures as appropriate based on analyses of scientific data. While safeguarding the well-being of citizens and protecting the public healthcare system, we also seek to reduce the disruption to normal social activities with a view to achieving the greatest effect with the lowest cost.”