Hong Kong will shorten compulsory quarantine at Penny’s Bay from a week to four days for travellers arriving from “enhanced surveillance” countries.

Starting from Tuesday, travellers from the highest-risk group will only have to undergo four days of quarantine before moving to a designated hotel for the remaining 17 days of isolation.

Penny's Bay Covid-19 quarantine centre on Lantau
Penny’s Bay Covid-19 quarantine centre on Lantau. File photo: GovHK.

The Food and Health Bureau said in a statement on Monday that all of the imported Omicron cases so far have been detected within the first three days of arriving in Hong Kong, and that the shortening of the quarantine duration is to “better utilise” the facilities at Penny’s Bay.

After four days at Penny’s Bay, transportation will be arranged to bring returned travellers to their hotel to complete the rest of their 21-day quarantine.

They will still be tested for Covid-19 every day during the first week, and every alternate day subsequently until they finish their quarantine.

UK added to ‘enhanced surveillance’ group

The government also said Tuesday that the UK would be added to the high-risk “enhanced surveillance” list following the confirmation of imported Omicron cases from the country.

The addition brings the number of highest-risk countries to 14, which currently also includes the US, South Africa and Nigeria.

airplane airport aviation cathay pacific airplane cx
Photo: Daniel Kotronis via Flickr.

Meanwhile, arrivals landing in Hong Kong from Friday onwards must take a Covid-19 test within 48 hours of flying, replacing the previous 72-hour window.

5 more Omicron cases

Five Covid-19 cases reported over the weekend are of the Omicron variant, according to sequencing analysis results announced by the Department of Health on Monday. Three cases involved travellers flying from the UK, while the two others were from Nigeria and Italy.

The patients were aged between 26 and 77, according to a government press release.

Hong Kong international airport
File photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Hong Kong has recorded 19 Omicron cases to date.

Separately, seven new Covid-19 cases – all of them imported – were reported on Monday.

Ukraine, Palestine now ‘high-risk’ countries

Authorities also announced on Sunday that Ukraine and Palestine will be moved to the list of Group A high-risk countries following the detection of Omicron cases there.

Starting Wednesday, travellers from the two places must quarantine for 21 days in a designated hotel regardless of their vaccination status. Previously, vaccinated arrivals from Ukraine and Palestine had to complete 14 days of hotel quarantine.

Ramada Hong Kong Grand Hotel
The Ramada Hong Kong Grand Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, one of the designated hotels for quarantine.

Services at a Covid-19 testing facility in Tai Po’s Tai Wo Sports Centre were temporarily halted on Monday after a burglary the night before. Computers were stolen from the centre, the Food and Health Bureau said, adding that no personal information was stored on the computers.

Fireworks cancelled

Hong Kong also said on Monday that the city’s Lunar New Year fireworks would be called off “in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.” It will be the third consecutive Lunar New Year that the pyrotechnics display has been scrapped.

hong kong skyline fireworks
Photo: Kin Au.

The city’s Covid-19 pandemic has largely stabilised in recent months, with daily imported cases in single digits. The last time Hong Kong saw a local infection was in October.

As of Monday, the city had recorded 12,534 cases and 213 related deaths.

Despite the cancellation of the Lunar New Year fireworks, a Tourism Board countdown concert to ring in 2022 featuring Cantopop artists Mirror and Alfred Hui is expected to go ahead.

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Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.