HK Patients and Close Contacts Quarantine Down to Five Days

Gov’t Cuts Isolation Time For COVID-19 Patients and Close Contacts

Undersecretary for Health, Libby Lee, spoke at a government press conference on Dec. 8 stating that COVID infected people may now have their at-home isolation cut from seven to five days, according to a local news report.

Starting Dec. 9, the isolation period for infected patients and close contacts may end their mandatory quarantine on the fifth day, after testing negative for the virus for two consecutive days.

Arrivals from Taiwan and abroad will also only be required to conduct rapid antigen tests for five consecutive days, instead of the current seven. Social distancing measures including the mask mandate will remain in place.

“Different places have their own conditions…and also their vaccination coverage rates are different. So if we just simply look at the pandemic measures and compare places and places, it’s not comprehensive and it’s not an objective tool,” Lee said.

The Health Department has stated they will closely monitor the epidemic to consider whether deploying more resources may help support hospital responsibilities. Larry Lee, chief manager of the Hospital Authority, said hospitals are currently dealing with 400 COVID-19 patients per day in the past few days.

Separately, University of Hong Kong microbiologist Siddarth Sridhar commented that easing of COVID rules could have been put in place earlier.

“It’s a small move towards making life a little bit easier for people who are infected or close contacts. I don’t think that’s going to have a negative effect on the covid epidemic locally.”

He added that the LeaveHomeSafe app may potentially no longer be required, posing a need to investigate whether the LeaveHomeSafe data have been helpful in gathering insight on local COVID outbreaks.

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