Hotel not a quarantine centre

April 21, 2020

(To watch the full media briefing with sign language interpretation, click here.)


The Regal Oriental Hotel is not a quarantine centre, but a holding centre for arrivals waiting for COVID-19 test results, Secretary for Food & Health Prof Sophia Chan said today.


Under new measures that come into effect tomorrow, the Department of Health will arrange for asymptomatic inbound travellers who need to wait for test results overnight to be temporarily accommodated in its holding centre set up in the Regal Oriental Hotel in Kowloon City.


During a media briefing, Prof Chan noted the department had tried its best to find the right hotel and had looked at those near the airport.


“We have to be really quick to have this waiting centre so that we can exercise or implement fully our 'test and hold', that is not only to have 100% of our inbound travellers take the specimens or the saliva samples but also to hold them and have them wait for the results before going back to their quarantine.”


Prof Chan noted that passengers arriving on morning or afternoon flights faced a wait of about six to eight hours for their test results, so for those on later flights it would more comfortable for them to wait in a hotel, rather than at the AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE).


“The temporary testing centre at the AWE can actually hold people whose flights arrive in the morning or before noon, because they have to wait for six to eight hours. So therefore, they can wait there for this to be implemented.


“But for flights of which we cannot control the time and also with arrival times scheduled in the afternoon or even in the evening, we want to provide a better resting area for people who have to wait overnight for the results. Therefore, we think a hotel would be appropriate for this purpose of waiting.”


She noted that the Centre for Health Protection would give health talks to help the nearby community understand the situation.


“The Department of Health has been trying its very best to find hotels that are suitable and have an appropriate infection control environment and other measures that are appropriate in terms of facilities. It is actually not easy.


"We found this hotel and we have informed the District Council. I understand there are sentiments or questions from the community as well as the District Council. We will do our best to provide more information to explain to them, to answer their queries and also to provide them with information. The Centre for Health Protection is organising health talks, so that the community can better understand the situation.”


Prof Chan made it clear that the hotel would only for used as a waiting centre and that any traveller who tested positive for the virus would be sent straight to hospital.


“This is not a quarantine centre, it is a centre for waiting for the results, or we say it is a holding centre for waiting for the results. So people who are (put) there, they shall stay there after taking samples at the airport and just go there to wait for the results. Because the flight arrives in the afternoon or in the evening, they need to wait overnight.


“All of them will only stay one night at the hotel and they cannot go out. There will be special transportation to take them from the airport to the hotel. After they know the results then they can go back to their quarantine place if it is negative. If it is a confirmed case, obviously they will be sent to the hospital.”

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