Family quarantine explained

March 16, 2021

The Government today said that for COVID-19 cases where children are involved, each and every decision has been made in the interests of the children and their families concerning their quarantine and isolation.


Explaining the relevant policy and arrangement, the Government said that under circumstances such as an outbreak with two or more infections in the same premises, or within an environment with higher risk such as playing sports, doing exercise or staying in the same classroom or school hall for an extended period of time, contacts even if wearing a mask could be considered as close contacts.


Sending close contacts to the government-run quarantine centres (QCs) is considered on a case-by-case basis taking into account a number of factors, including whether there are special needs, medical needs and the distance between close contacts' residence and the QC.


Normally, those requiring medical attention would be sent to one of the QCs at government facilities where their health condition can be better monitored and supported in case of emergency.


For children aged under 18 to be quarantined in the QCs, the Department of Health upon request would generally allow one of the parents to accompany them to the QCs to take care of them. The parent and child would remain in the same room until the quarantine period ends.


If a parent tests positive and needs to be hospitalised, a caretaker arranged by the parents could be allowed to accompany the quarantined child.


For parents classified as close contacts but would like to stay with their children with special needs who are not close contacts, the parent could make a request to the Department of Health to bring their children to the QC. The children will need to stay with the parents for the whole quarantine period while the parents need to sign an undertaking that they fully understand the risk of infection.


To cater for the specific needs of children including babies, the Social Welfare Department provides a wide range of items in the QCs available to minors, including cots, blankets, bumpers, clothes, cutlery, toiletries, nappies, baby food and snacks, as well as colouring pencils and colouring books. Milk warmers, milk bottle sterilisers and refrigerators for parents are also provided upon request.


If parents or family members of a paediatric COVID-19 patient are also diagnosed with the disease, public hospitals will consider placing the patients in the same Airborne Infection Isolation Room, subject to assessment of the patients' clinical condition. In cases where the parents test negative, public hospitals will also accommodate their request to accompany the paediatric patient, subject to the agreement of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) and the availability of isolation capacities.


The hospital will explain to the parents the risk of contracting the infection and essential infection control precautions and personal protective equipment will be provided. Due to infection control considerations, the parents will be required to undergo an additional quarantine period after the paediatric patient is discharged.


In the scenario where both parents are confirmed with COVID-19 and there is no alternative arrangement for providing care for their children, public hospitals will, upon the agreement of the CHP, provide suitable arrangements to facilitate proper parental care.


The Government added that if anyone in quarantine or isolation has any questions, requests or suggestions, it has put in place procedures so their needs can be met as far as practicable and as safely as possible.

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