Hong Kong extends quarantine to 21 days for 15 high-risk countries

Hong Kong is moving 15 countries, including the United States, from its “medium risk” category to COVID-19 to a “high risk” denotation on Friday.

This means that travelers arriving from these places must be fully vaccinated, enter a 21-day quarantine and receive five negative test results, the last of which would arrive 26 days after arrival in Hong Kong.

The other 14 countries affected are France, Greece, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Iran, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, UAE and Tanzania.

These individuals must have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to departure for Hong Kong, with records showing that this was issued by China, Hong Kong or a regulatory authority approved by the World Health Organization elsewhere. In addition, the two-week quarantine must take place at a designated hotel that has been specified for this purpose.

Another change that will take place on Friday is Australia’s shift from “low risk” to “medium risk”, indicating that visitors there must now be quarantined for 14 days if they are fully vaccinated, 21 if not. However, the first number can be reduced to seven days with an approved positive antibody test result.

View from the Victoria Peak tram in Hong Kong.

These movements were triggered by significant spikes in positive test scores in the aforementioned countries in a short period of time. As a result, according to the statement accompanying this announcement, “huge challenges” were presented to Hong Kong’s anti-epidemic efforts, which were mostly successful and resulted in a minimal number of recent cases of local transmission.

In truth, according to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong health officials had been calling for the US, in particular, to be moved to the “high risk” category. Dr. Ho Pak-leung, a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong, said having the US as a “medium risk” country was the “biggest gap” in the measures the government had taken.

A significant concern was for vaccinated Americans transporting the virus to Hong Kong. The number of new cases per day in the US rose to 125,000 last week.

Countries that have already been labeled “high risk” by Hong Kong authorities prior to Monday’s announcement and have remained so include Ireland, Russia, UK, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa and Brazil .

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