Travellers arriving in Hong Kong on, or after, last Tuesday will have to undergo an additional Covid-19 PCR-based nucleic acid test on the ninth day after arrival, the government announced on Sunday.

Currently, travellers have to undergo a nucleic test on their 12th day of arrival, after they have completed their seven-day quarantine at a designated hotel.

Aircraft at the Hong Kong International Airport during the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: GovHK.

The government said that the additional test was to “enhance the health surveillance of persons arriving in Hong Kong who have been discharged early from compulsory quarantine in designated quarantine hotels.”

PCR tests

Last Sunday’s announcement also relaxed some testing requirements for people aged under three, travellers transferring or transiting in Hong Kong, and those who recently recovered from Covid-19. The measures will take into effect from Wednesday.

Incoming travellers and those transferring or transiting in the city will no longer have to undergo PCR-based nucleic acid test prior to their arrival to Hong Kong.

People who have recovered from Covid-19 14 to 90 days before boarding their flights to Hong Kong will only have to show a negative rapid antigen test result completed within 24 hours of boarding their flights.

Recovered travellers will have to show a certificate or a recovery record in Chinese or English showing that they were infected with Covid-19 14 to 90 days before boarding. They will also have to show a test report from a lab or a medical institute showing the negative RAT result.

Hong Kong airport during Covid-19 restrictions in May, 2022. File photo: Tania Chan/HKFP.

For other travellers coming into Hong Kong, they will still have to show a negative PCR-based nucleic acid test result which was conducted within 48 hours pre-departure. However, from June 1, they will no longer have to show the ISO 15189 accreditation or recognition by the local government showing that the lab is recognised.

“As COVID-19 nucleic testing services in many overseas places are being scaled back, inbound persons may find it difficult to confirm whether a local laboratory or healthcare institution conducting polymerase chain reaction-based nucleic acid tests is ISO 15189-accredited or recognised by the government of the place,” the government statement read.

Hong Kong has reported over 1.2 million Covid-19 infections and 9,376 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic over two years ago.

The city imposes some of the strictest quarantine requirements in the world for incoming travellers. The Hong Kong government loosened some restrictions at the end of March, when the fifth wave of outbreak began to ebb, though businesses have urged for a full reopening.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.