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Additional rapid antigen tests will be added to Hong Kong airport “test-and-hold” protocols

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The Hong Kong airport announced today (May 6) that, beginning May 9, an additional rapid antigen test (RAT) will be conducted during the “test-and-hold” period to strengthen the testing arrangements for inbound persons, allowing for earlier detection and isolation of infected persons, and to improve the process of closed-loop management from the airport to designated quarantine hotels (DQHs), reducing inbound passenger wait times.

Hong Kong harbour

All passengers arriving in Hong Kong via Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) from overseas or Taiwan will be required to undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) nucleic acid test by professional swab sampling as well as a RAT with professional specimen collection at the Temporary Specimen Collection Centre (TSCC) at the airport beginning at 0.00am on May 9 under the “test-and-hold” arrangement:

  • If the relevant person’s RAT result is negative, he or she can proceed with immigration procedures and be transferred by designated transport to DQHs, where he or she will await the nucleic acid test result and undergo compulsory quarantine under closed-loop management, as directed by the staff on site.
  • If the nucleic acid test likewise comes back negative, the detained person can resume his or her mandatory quarantine in DQHs. On the fifth and 12th days after arriving in Hong Kong, he or she will be subjected to daily RATs as well as nucleic acid tests.
  • If any RAT or nucleic acid test results are positive during a “test-and-hold” arrangement or quarantine, and the relevant inbound person is classified as a confirmed case, he or she will be transferred to a community isolation facility hotel (CIF hotel) for isolation if no obvious symptoms exist and no medical assistance is required.

Those who require medical attention will be transported to a public hospital for treatment and monitoring. Nucleic acid testing may still reveal the existence of viral genome fragments inside the bodies of certain recovered COVID-19 infected people.

In this regard, the Department of Health will consider whether inbound persons who tested positive by nucleic acid tests with a low viral load during the “test-and-hold” arrangement at HKIA or compulsory quarantine in DQHs and are recovered persons infected within 90 days should not be classified as confirmed cases and allowed to continue to undergo compulsory quarantine, taking into account data from the nucleic acid test results and recovery records.

Persons arriving via HKIA from China Mainland or Macao S.A.R. who are subject to home quarantine, those who come to Hong Kong under the Return2hk Scheme or the Come2hk Scheme and are thus exempt from compulsory quarantine, and other inbound persons who are not required to undergo compulsory quarantine in DQHs will not be affected by the above-mentioned arrangements.

The TSCC at the airport must conduct a nucleic acid test on these inbound passengers. They can only proceed with their immigration processes if the nucleic acid test findings are negative.