New testing rules for arrivals

May 29, 2022

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


The Government today announced that from June 1, it will fine-tune a number of pre-departure and post-arrival nucleic acid testing arrangements for inbound travellers from overseas places and Taiwan.


The adjustments aim to reduce the impact on travellers’ journeys while continuing to firmly guard against the importation of COVID-19 cases, it said in a press release.


Currently, for people who have stayed in overseas places or Taiwan, apart from a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based nucleic acid test conducted on the fifth day of arrival in Hong Kong during compulsory quarantine in a designated quarantine hotel, another PCR-based nucleic acid test is done on the 12th day of arrival regardless of whether they have been discharged early from compulsory quarantine.


In accordance with the Government’s latest requirements announced today, people arriving in Hong Kong on or after May 24 and are discharged early from compulsory quarantine will have to take an additional compulsory PCR-based nucleic acid test on the ninth day of arrival.


At a press briefing this afternoon, Centre for Health Protection Principal Medical & Health Officer Dr Albert Au explained: “Some of the cases might have a longer incubation period, so the virus might not be detected during quarantine or they might have onset of symptoms after completion of quarantine. This is a theoretical risk, so adding another PCR-based nucleic acid test earlier between day five and 12 of arrival will increase the chance of picking up these cases earlier.


“In case an inbound traveller gets infected during their quarantine in a designated quarantine hotel, especially in the later part of the quarantine period, they may not be picked up before the completion of quarantine, so adding a test on the ninth day of arrival will enable us to detect these cases at an earlier stage to prevent further community spread.”


Meanwhile, as nucleic testing services in many overseas areas are now scaled down, the Government noted that inbound travellers may find it difficult to confirm whether a local laboratory or healthcare institution conducting PCR-based nucleic acid tests is ISO 15189-accredited or recognised by local authorities.


Considering that these travellers are still subject to the test-and-hold arrangement and compulsory quarantine in Hong Kong, from June 1, people boarding flights from overseas places or Taiwan are only required to present when boarding the negative result proof of a nucleic acid test conducted within 48 hours prior to the scheduled time of departure and with samples collected by a laboratory or healthcare institution. In other words, they will no longer need to present the documentary proof of the ISO 15189 accreditation or the recognition by the local authority regarding the laboratory or the healthcare institution.


Similarly, children aged below three who have stayed in overseas places or Taiwan need not present the proof of the 48-hour pre-departure nucleic acid test when boarding. However, they will still be subject to nucleic acid tests and compulsory quarantine at a designated quarantine hotel as per the existing arrangement.


As for passengers transferring or transiting through Hong Kong International Airport, the Government will lift the requirement for them to present proof of the 48-hour pre-departure nucleic acid test from June 1.


The decision was made in light of the further stabilisation of the global COVID-19 epidemic situation, while prevention and control measures have been strengthened at the airport to ensure the segregation of transferring or transiting passengers to lower the risk of transmission of cases into the community, the Government added.


Separately, also from June 1, passengers from overseas places or Taiwan who have previously contracted the virus 14 to 90 days prior to boarding for Hong Kong and have recovered can be allowed to board a flight if they hold certain documentary proof.


These documents include a proof showing that they contracted the virus 14 to 90 days prior to boarding for Hong Kong and have recovered and the negative result of a rapid antigen test conducted within 24 hours prior to boarding, the Government elaborated.


Additionally, the Government announced the updated penalty on triggering the route-specific flight suspension mechanism as a way to encourage airlines to stringently check passengers’ compliance with boarding conditions while avoiding the disruption to airlines’ operations and the passengers’ journeys.


From June 1, if it is the first instance within a 10-day period for a flight to trigger the mechanism due to passengers’ non-compliance with the boarding conditions, the Airport Authority will issue a warning to the airline and impose a penalty of $20,000.


If that route's flights trigger the mechanism again within 10 days, the airline’s passenger flights on that route from the same origin will be prohibited from landing in Hong Kong for five days.

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