With the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping Hong Kong, the city’s residents are increasingly concerned about what will happen to them if they either test positive for the virus or are deemed close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 patient. Here, find out what to expect if you test positive for the virus or are a close contact of someone infected with the virus.
Note: While the information provided here is accurate at the time of writing, the situation is changing regularly and rapidly and this article may not always be up-to-date. Refer to the government’s official guidelines for the most updated information: StayHomeSafe Scheme and where to get tested/what to do if you test positive.
What happens if you test positive for Covid-19?
International arrivals who test positive while at their designated quarantine hotel (DHQ) must wait there until they are transported to a hospital or isolation facility. Those who test positive for the virus after undergoing a nucleic acid test at a community testing centre or mobile specimen collection station will be added to the Covid-19 Admission Allocation System.
Starting April 1, international arrivals who test positive upon arrival in Hong Kong will be transferred to a community isolation hotel. If they test negative on Day 6 and Day 7 after their initial positive test, they can leave the isolation hotel.
Confirmed patients are isolated in different facilities, depending on the severity of their symptoms. The following applies to people with no recent overseas travel history and incoming travellers:
- Patients in critical condition and in need of hospitalization: Anyone infected with Covid-19 who is deemed in critical or serious condition, who are elderly or who have chronic ailments are sent to public hospitals.
- Patients in relatively stable condition: These patients are sent to the North Lantau Hospital Hong Kong Infection Control Centre (HKICC) and community treatment facilities, such as the one at AsiaWorld-Expo.
- Asymptomatic patients: These patients who do not need medical attention are sent to different Community Isolation Facilities (CIFs) depending on the amount of non-Covid care they need.
- CIFs and Holding Centres for the Elderly: These facilities are for patients who require care support.
- CIFs with individual units: These facilities are for patients admitted with carers or family members.
- General CIFs: These facilities are for able-bodied patients who can care for themselves.
- Designated clinics and home isolation: Patients who test positive at home using a rapid antigen test and who exhibit mild symptoms such as a fever, sore throat or runny nose can stay at home until they are transferred to a hospital or CIF. In the interim, they can make bookings at a designated clinic for Covid-19 confirmed cases for treatment.
What happens to recovered arrivals who test positive for Covid-19 at the airport?
The Department of Health can, on individual cases, allow an arriving traveller who tests positive for Covid-19 at the airport and who has recovered from the virus within the past three months to stay at their designated quarantine hotel instead of a community isolation facility. The decision is made based on data in the PCR test result and the individual’s recovery record.
What happens if my child tests positive for Covid-19?
The Hospital Authority has said that children infected with the virus who are in stable condition can remain at home. If they need hospitalisation, they will be transferred to a paediatric isolation facility in a public hospital.
In addition, if parents or carers have also tested positive and are well enough to care for a hospitalised child, they may be allowed to stay with the child if there is enough room in the ward. However, parents or carers are not advised stay with children if they test negative. Special considerations are made for requirements such as direct breastfeeding. Parents and carers will have to sign consent forms and follow the hospitals infection-control measures.
When can you get discharged after testing positive for Covid-19?
Covid-19 patients can be discharged based on the following criteria. Note that these rules only apply to individuals who have gotten at least two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. If you have gotten only one dose or haven’t gotten vaccinated, no matter if you’ve been hospitalized or are staying at a CIF, the minimum time until you can be discharged is 14 days.
- Hospitalised patients: Hospitalised patients who test negative and are asymptomatic seven days after they first test positive can return home for another seven days of isolation, provided they do not live with elderly people, pregnant women or chronically ill patients with low immunity (i.e. high-risk individuals). They must stay at the hospital if they test positive on the seventh day or cannot return home. On Day 14, if they return another negative nucleic acid test, they can be discharged.
- Patients at community isolation facilities: Patients at CIFs who return a negative RAT on their sixth and seventh days can be discharged. They must stay at the CIF if they test positive on the seventh day or cannot return home. After this, they must take RATs every day and can only be discharged when they test negative two days in a row.
- Patients awaiting hospitalisation: Confirmed patients awaiting hospitalisation who return a negative RAT on their sixth and seventh days of isolation can leave home. If they test positive on the sixth or seventh day, they must take RATs every day and can only leave home when they test negative two days in a row.
Travellers who have been discharged from the hospital within the period of the quarantine order they received when they arrived in Hong Kong must complete their isolation in their designated quarantine hotel.
What happens if you’re a close contact of a local case?
Close contacts and household contacts of close contacts of confirmed local cases under the StayHomeSafe scheme need to quarantine for four days if vaccinated with two doses. If they are unvaccinated or have received only one shot, they need to isolate at home for 14 days. Those who come under this scheme must agree to the following conditions:
- The close contacts’ home will be assessed to check whether it is suitable for isolation. Criteria include suitability of the person’s dwelling place (whether bathrooms are shared, for instance), the risk level of persons confining at the same place (whether there are pregnant or chronically ill people in the home) and their individual physical conditions.
- Confinees must stay at home and wear an electronic wristband throughout the quarantine period.
- They must regularly monitor their physical condition by taking their body temperature twice every day, conduct regular RATs on specified dates and follow other home quarantine guidelines issued by the Department of Health.
- Anyone under the StayHomeSafe scheme – whether unvaccinated, fully or partially vaccinated – must undergo a Day 12 PCR test at a community vaccination centre.
Other close contacts who have been sent to CIFs or who are at home and who have received at least two doses of Covid-19 vaccines may conduct RATs on Day 6 and Day 7 of their home quarantine period. If they test negative on these two successive days, they may leave their CIF or home on Day 7. If they obtain at least one positive RAT result on these two days, they should conduct RATs every day. They may leave the CIF or their home after they test negative for two successive days.
What happens if you’re a close contact of an imported case?
Close contacts of imported Covid-19 cases must spend 21 days at a government quarantine centre and are tested regularly for the virus during their time there.
However, quarantine periods for those deemed close contacts of close contacts of imported cases can be as short as three days.
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