Hong Kong’s COVID-19 hotel quarantine system under fire, again

Hong Kong’s COVID-19 hotel quarantine system under fire, again
A health worker wearing a protective suit stands as residents queue for taking nucleic acid test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a makeshift testing site, after the government announced that several residential buildings to be locked down at Kwai Chung residential area following a new COVID-19 outbreak, in Hong Kong, China, January 22, 2022. REUTERS/Lam Yik

The backstory:

  • Hong Kong, like the mainland, is adopting a zero-COVID-19 policy. The city recently has seen its highest number of cases in over a year, prompting the government to extend lockdown measures.
  • One aspect of the government’s efforts to contain the virus is mandatory quarantine, which for the most part, requires travelers to quarantine for three weeks in a designated quarantine hotel.

The development:

  • There was a recent outbreak at a public housing estate in the New Territories, with 200 people testing positive. This outbreak has been traced back to a traveler who caught omicron while undergoing 21 days of isolation at a hotel in Kowloon.
  • The thing is, though, she went into the hotel without COVID-19 and caught it from an infected person staying at the same hotel while they were doing their quarantine.
  • This is the fourth time this year that hotels have passed infections instead of containing them, with individuals catching them in the hallways when doors were open for food collection and COVID-19 testing. But because of how severe this outbreak is, it’s led to more scrutiny surrounding this COVID-19 containment measure.
  • Some say that letting people self-isolate is a better option, while others say that it’s important to note that hotel quarantine has stopped more imported infections that it’s caused. But, for the most part, many say that Hong Kong really just needs to boost its vaccination rate.
  • Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) General Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has stated: “It’s dangerous to assume that Omicron will be the last variant and that we are in the end game. On the contrary, globally the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge."

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