27th November 2021 – (Hong Kong) In response to the latest announcement by the World Health Organisation on the mutant virus strain Omicron, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health stated today (27) that it will further strengthen the quarantine and testing requirements for Hong Kong residents arriving in Hong Kong from the relevant areas from tomorrow (28th).
To enhance the surveillance on the Omicron variant, starting from 0.00am tomorrow, the CHP will require HKSAR residents arriving from the eight places in southern Africa concerned to undergo quarantine at the Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre for seven days, during which they have to undergo testing every day and their health conditions will be monitored by healthcare professionals. Upon completion of the seven-day quarantine at quarantine centre, they will be allowed to finish the rest of the compulsory quarantine requirement at the designated quarantine hotel which they have reserved. They are also required to undergo testing on the 9th, 12th, 16th and 19th day and another compulsory testing in a community testing centre on the 26th day of arrival at Hong Kong.
In response to the outbreak of the B.1.1.529 mutant virus strain in southern Africa, the Hong Kong government listed Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe as high-risk areas last night, and only allowed Hong Kong residents who have completed vaccination to enter the country but they must also complete 21-day quarantine.
In addition, according to the data of the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Omicron is the mutant virus strain with the most mutations since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is concerned that it may be more transmissible and affect the effectiveness of the vaccine, as well as the possibility of increasing the risk of re-infection. According to official information, in addition to two cases in Hong Kong, Omicron mutant virus strains have appeared in many regions, including Botswana, South Africa, Israel and Belgium. CHP has contacted Israeli and Belgian health authorities to obtain details of local imported cases. Regarding the two Omicron cases diagnosed in the Regal Airport Hotel earlier in Hong Kong which involved transmission within the hotel, CHP has arranged for persons who stayed in the 3 rooms connected to the left and right of rooms 5111 and 5112 of the Regal Airport Hotel from 11th to 14th November to go to the Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre for a 14-day compulsory quarantine, and there are no new confirmed cases as of now.
A CHP spokesperson said that although there are currently no direct flights arriving in Hong Kong from the eight regions of southern Africa, it has been noted that Omicron mutant virus strains have appeared in many parts of the world. Hong Kong must be prepared to take the most stringent anti-epidemic measures. to prevent the mutated virus strain from entering the local community. It must review the effectiveness of epidemic prevention measures from time to time.
The Government has been closely monitoring the latest scientific data on mutant strains as well as the epidemic situation of various places and will adjust the boarding, quarantine and testing requirements for persons arriving at Hong Kong from relevant places based on the risk levels as the situation warrants. In view of the latest developments of the Omicron variant, started from 0.00am today, along with South Africa which was already a Group A specified place, the Government also specified Botswana, as well as the adjacent Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe as Group A specified places. Non-Hong Kong residents who have stayed in these places within 21 days will not be allowed to enter Hong Kong. Details on the relevant boarding and compulsory quarantine requirements for respective specified places can be found at www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/inbound-travel.html.
Under existing requirement, persons who have stayed in high-risk Group A specified places on the day of boarding for/arrival at Hong Kong or during the 21 days before that day can only board flights for Hong Kong if they are HKSAR residents who are fully vaccinated and hold a recognised vaccination record. Upon arrival, they have to undergo compulsory quarantine for 21 days in a designated quarantine hotel and undergo six tests during compulsory quarantine, followed by self-monitoring for the subsequent seven days, and have to undergo compulsory testing in a community testing centre on the 26th day of arrival at Hong Kong.