Preventive measures taken by travellers returning to Hong Kong

18 Mar 2020 / Dr. Lee Chun Hui, David (General Practitioner)

 

For those who have traveled to or are returning from countries/areas with a high risk of COVID-19 infection (countries/areas[i] where the Hong Kong SAR Government has issued red travel alerts to and where the number of new cases of COVID-19 is significantly rising):

There are some general measures which you should observe while in the high-risk areas, on the returning flight, or in Hong Kong.

  1. General measures:
  • Properly wear a mask (How to put on and remove a mask: https://virtusmedical.com/2019-nCoV-info/correct-way-to-wear-mask)
  • Frequent handwashing with water and soap or cleaning with sanitary wipes or hand sanitizers[ii], especially after touching objects which are usually touched by many others (e.g. doorknobs or handles, elevator buttons, escalator handrails, check-in counters in the airport, complimentary computers in the airport, etc.). Or avoid touching these objects.
  • Avoid uncleaned hands coming into contact with your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Flush the toilets with the lid down
  • Avoid going to crowded areas or maintain at least a ~6ft-distance with others if possible
  • Avoid unnecessary social gatherings
  1. Specific measures when you are returning to Hong Kong

Before boarding

  • Observe general measures suggested in part A
  • Avoid using complimentary computers in the airport
  • Void your bladder and bowel while still on the ground to reduce the frequency of going to the washroom while on the flight back

After boarding

  • Observe general measures suggested in part A
  • Use sanitary wipes to clean hard-surface objects near your seats (e.g. armrests, seatbelt buckles, controllers and seat-adjusting buttons, tables, etc.)
  • Clean your hands after cleaning these objects and after seated
  • keep your mask on unless you are eating or drinking
  • Completely take your mask off while having your meals and change to a new mask afterward or when it is wet
  • Keep yourself adequately hydrated on the plane, neither over drink nor have drinks that have diuretic effects (e.g. alcohol, caffeinated drinks) to reduce the frequency of going to the washroom
  • Avoid direct contacts with other passengers on the plane
  • Periodic minor stretching and muscle contraction exercise in your seat to improve circulation and to prevent deep vein thrombosis

When landed in Hong Kong

  • Observe general measures suggested in part A
  • Fill out the health declaration form completely and honestly
  • Report any symptoms including fever or respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, phlegm, sore throat, runny nose, etc.) to the flight crew or the authority

When going through Hong Kong customs, if you have traveled to or are returning from areas where the Hong Kong SAR government has issued red travel alerts on, Port Health officers will issue you a mandatory quarantine order. Depending on where you have been to or returning from, you may be quarantined at a quarantine camp or quarantined at your home. Details of which quarantine category you may belong to can be found on the first page of the Center of Health Protection (CHP) website (https://www.chp.gov.hk/en/) (CHP is a subsidiary of the Department of Health of Hong Kong).

If you have traveled to high-risk areas but not where the Hong Kong SAR government has issued red travel alerts on, you are still advised to have home quarantine, wear a mask properly all the time when you are out of your homes, and observe other general measures suggested in part A.

  1. Specific measures when you are in Hong Kong

Mandatory home quarantine:

  • Observe general measures suggested in part A
  • Properly wear a mask at home, especially when you are outside of your room or interacting with other family members as close contacts at home are at high risk of contracting the infection if you have been infected while abroad
  • If possible, use a toilet of your own
  • Do not share personal toiletries, utensils, etc. with others
  • Do not share your food or drinks with others
  • Keep your home well ventilated with fresh air
  • Clean your surroundings with bleach or cleansing alcohol, depending on the surfaces, at least daily[iii]
  • Fill your U-trap drainages. Please refer to the booklet issued by CHP for further information
    (http://bit.ly/2wgUm6Q)

Further, you need to observe on your symptoms. If you develop a fever or respiratory symptoms (including cough, shortness of breath, phlegm, sore throat, runny nose, etc.), you should contact CHP immediately for further instructions.

Your family member(s) should also observe their symptoms and the general measures suggested in part A.

Nonmandatory home quarantine (for those who have traveled to or returned from high-risk regions where the HK government has not yet issued red travel alerts on):

  • Advice is generally the same as that for those who are under mandatory home quarantine
  • However, if you have symptoms or worry that you have been infected with COVID-19, you may also consult your own doctor for management
  • Currently, certain private GPs and family doctors offer help to collect samples from suspected patients. The specimen will then be sent to private and public laboratories for testing.

Mandatory quarantine at camps:

  • Observe general measures suggested in part A
  • Follow the instructions given by wardens at the quarantine camps

Everyone who has travelled to or is returning from areas with a high risk of COVID-19 infection should abide by the necessary measures suggested above for the greater good of our hometown.

For more information, please visit CHP’s “Points to Note or Home Quarantine for Inbound Travellers from Overseas” (http://bit.ly/3a1Tr8P).