HONG KONG: Those who test positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong will be quarantined in a centralised facility if they are infected with certain subvariants of the Omicron strain of the virus, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday (Jun 1).
The move appears to be a reversal of a policy allowing those with mild symptoms – and their close contacts – to isolate at home. The Stay Home Safe scheme has been in place since February.
At a daily press briefing on COVID-19, Controller of the Centre of Health Protection (CHP) Edwin Tsui said those found to carry the subvariants BA.2.12.1, BA.4 or BA.5 will be sent to a hospital or quarantine centre, along with their close contacts.
“The latest information shows that these Omicron sublineages may have higher transmissibility … we have to take a more stringent approach,” he said, according to an RTHK report.
Thirty-four people have so far tested positive for those subvariants, including at least two families linked to a cluster at a Canadian international school, reported Bloomberg.
Authorities rejected the families’ requests to quarantine at home.
A wave of the highly transmissible Omicron variant hit Hong Kong in January, overwhelming its isolation facilities.
It also killed more than 9,000 people, mostly unvaccinated elderly people, and forced the reimposition of stringent social distancing curbs.
Some restrictions have eased in recent weeks, including a ban on evening dining inside restaurants and the reopening of businesses like gyms and cinemas.
Beaches were reopened last month and people allowed to exercise outdoors without masks for the first time in months.
Hong Kong reported 505 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, and one death. The city has recorded a total of 1,212,699 cases and 9,378 deaths since the start of the pandemic.