2022-01-12 16:43

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Shorter HK Quarantine Time "Should Apply to Incoming Travellers"


Source: SCMP

Good evening everybody


A decision by Hong Kong authorities to cut their lengthiest quarantine period for close contacts of Covid-19 patients from 21 days to 14 has brought closer scrutiny to the citys tough isolation regime, and prompted some local experts to argue the reduction should also apply to incoming travellers.


People arrive at the Pennys Bay Quarantine Centre on Lantau Island for quarantine. Photo: Felix Wong


Infectious diseases specialists told the Post on Tuesday that symptoms of the Omicron variant emerged quicker C at about three days on average C providing the scientific basis for a cut in quarantine time.
The quarantine period for inbound travellers should certainly be shortened to match those of exposed contacts of Covid-19 cases, said Dr Siddharth Sridhar, clinical assistant professor of the University of Hong Kongs department of microbiology, who argued medical evidence suggested quarantine could even be shortened to about 10 days.


Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Centre for Health Protections communicable disease branch. Photo: Jonathan Wong

On Monday, Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Centre for Health Protections communicable disease branch, announced the policy shift for close contacts, citing public health and capacity reasons.
We have seen many more confirmed cases lately and therefore many more close contacts, putting pressure on the capacity of quarantine centres. 
We also considered the fact that the incubation period for Omicron is quite short, within 14 days for most local and imported cases we have seen in Hong Kong, Chuang told a press briefing.



Sridhar said there was a scientific basis for shortening quarantine, citing a recent Norwegian study that showed a median incubation period of the variant at three days, shorter than the four days on average for Delta.
In the study that centred on a superspreading Christmas party event in Norway in late November last year, 81 out of 117 attendees were eventually diagnosed with the highly transmissible variant, with all having their symptoms appear within eight days of contact with the first patient.
Another study in Nebraska from around a similar time found the median interval between earliest possible exposure to the first virus-carrying patient and symptom onset for the rest of a group of six household contacts was 73 hours.
Therefore, there is actually room to shorten quarantine times even further to about 10 days, Sridhar said.



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