Suspected COVID-19 infected Indian Consul who stays at Pokfulam Gardens exempted from quarantine

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18th October 2020 – (Hong Kong) Among the COVID-19 case announced earlier, a 25-year-old infected man arrived in Hong Kong from India (Case No. 5217). According to the regulations of the Department of Health, the patient should have stayed in a hotel for quarantine for 14 days. However, the information shows that he stayed at Pokfulam Gardens, Block 6, Pok Fu Lam Road, Pok Fu Lam during quarantine period. A resident living in Block 6 of Pokfulam Gardens pointed out that the unit involved was the residence of the Indian consul, while there are two other units in Block 6 occupied by foreign consuls. Other residents pointed out that there was an online rumour among residents on WhatsApp that the confirmed person was a consul, but it has not been confirmed yet.

The Department of Health has not confirmed if the patient person is exempt from quarantine and is awaiting a reply from the Department.

According to government regulations, India is a designated high-risk area. After arriving in Hong Kong, passengers who arrive in Hong Kong must go to the temporary sample collection centre of the Department of Health to submit deep throat saliva samples. If the test results are negative, they must go to the pre-booked hotel and continue for 14-day compulsory quarantine.

According to the “Regulations on Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving to Hong Kong” and “Regulations on Compulsory Quarantine of Persons Arriving from Foreign Countries”, persons arriving in Hong Kong are required to undergo compulsory quarantine for 14 days, but the Chief Secretary for Administration can exempt certain persons according to relevant regulations i.e. foreign government consuls and other government personnel are exempted.

It seems like foreign diplomats arriving from high-risk areas like India, U.S. and U.K. can spread the COVID-19 virus easily in the community as they do not need to undergo compulsory quarantine. This loophole should be addressed by the Hong Kong government soonest possible.

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