Quarantine-free travel advocated

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Quarantine hotel measures enhanced

The Government today announced that enhancement measures are being implemented to further strengthen infection control at designated quarantine hotels.   People arriving in Hong Kong from overseas are subject to testing and compulsory quarantine requirements under a set of stringent inbound prevention and control measures.   For those arriving in Hong Kong, apart from undergoing the test-and-hold arrangement at the airport, they will also be subject to further tests while undergoing compulsory quarantine at designated quarantine hotels.   The Government earlier announced that while adjusting the compulsory quarantine periods for fully vaccinated arrivals, the testing arrangements will also be enhanced at the same time to ensure that even with the shortened compulsory quarantine periods, no case would slip through the testing net as far as possible.    It will introduce an additional test on the third day of arrival.   Depending on the risk levels of places where the people arriving in Hong Kong depart from and the applicable compulsory quarantine periods, the number of tests they will be subject to during compulsory quarantine will also be increased.   Those who are subject to a seven-day quarantine will need to be tested twice and people who have to undergo a 21-day quarantine will need to be tested four times.   Those arriving at Hong Kong from extremely high-risk or very high-risk specified places, or fully vaccinated people with shortened quarantine periods, will also be required to undergo additional compulsory tests upon the completion of compulsory quarantine.   To strengthen quality assurance of testing, the Government has introduced new contract terms for the contractors providing testing services at designated quarantine hotels.   The new contract terms specify that all swab takers shall either be a registered nurse or an enrolled nurse with experience in infection control and specimen collection by swabbing.   The contractors shall also provide at least one officer-in-charge of specimen collection bearing the qualification of registered medical practitioner, registered nurse or other healthcare professionals with at least three years' experience in management and supervision, knowledge and experience in infection control as well as experience in specimen collection by swabbing.   The officer-in-charge shall supervise and ensure that the specimen collection process conducted under the contracts meets the Department of Health’s standard.   Regarding the combined nasal and throat swab, the Government held a training session demonstration on May 4 for representatives of existing contractors.   According to the contract terms, contractors shall be responsible for conducting regular training for their staff and keep a proper record of the training for inspection by the Government.   The training demonstration can help contractors conduct training for their staff to ensure both the quality of swabbing and procedure of infection control meet the stringent requirement.   Under the new contract terms, contractors shall establish a self-auditing team to monitor the performance and proper compliance of their teams, including periodical assessment of the skills and knowledge of all frontline staff as well as regular refresher courses on a bi-weekly basis.   Contractors shall also prepare detailed reports on staff qualification, training records, service log and self-auditing results.   The Government shall evaluate the reports and follow up where necessary. If the contractor fails to meet requirements, the Government may terminate the contract and debar the contractor from bidding for contracts of similar nature in the future.   Given the large number of returnees from high-risk areas staying at some designated quarantine hotels, the Government has advised hotels to lower their occupancy rate to 80% or below.    It also advised hotels to segregate guests returning from high-risk areas and other areas in different zones as far as practicable.   Hotels shall remind guests that all windows should be closed before opening their door or conducting combined nasal and throat swab sampling. Hotel staff shall be tested every seven days instead of every 14 days.
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