Thirty-six people under mandatory two-week home quarantine were found to have left their place of confinement without permission following police spot checks, the government said on Sunday.

The measure, which came into effect last Thursday, targets all Hong Kong-bound travellers in response to a global spike in coronavirus cases. First detected in China’s Hubei province, Covid-19 has infected more than 335,000 people leading to more than 14,600 deaths across at least 173 countries and territories.

virus coronavirus surgical medical face mask (2)
File photo: Pixabay.

Police located five of 36 people and sent them to quarantine centres, a spokesperson said in a statement. Two of them had reportedly removed their electronic wristbands which paired to a mobile app that tracks their locations. The other 31 people have been placed on a wanted list.

Anyone who is found to have breached the order without permission is subject to a fine of HK$25,000 and maximum imprisonment of six months.

“Such actions increase the risk of community transmission and will bring about [a] negative impact [on] the health of others and public-at-large. The government will not tolerate such utterly irresponsible actions and will follow up seriously,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Health Protection confirmed an additional 44 cases of Covid-19 as of 4pm on Sunday, driving the citywide toll to 317, with one probable case.

Tsim Sha Tsui masks public coronavirus virus Covid-19
File photo: GovHK.

The newly-confirmed cases included 28 men and 16 women, aged between one and 72 years old. Twenty-nine of them had travelled abroad to Europe, the US and other countries during their incubation periods, ranging from one to 14 days. Four of them had visited popular nightlife area Lan Kwai Fong, one of whom worked there.

Two were teachers from international school Mount Kelly in Tsim Sha Tsui, which had organised a trip to Switzerland. The confirmations came after two members of staff and two close contacts were diagnosed earlier.

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.