This comes as the number of close contacts that needed to be quarantined has increased rapidly in the past few days, putting pressure on the capacity of quarantine facilities.
City-state Hong Kong recently reported its first cases to be detected in the community of the Omicron variant after going almost three months with a zero-COVID strategy having adopted some of the most stringent border entry requirements in the world.
As such, a case was found in the community after a Cathay Pacific crew member with shortened quarantine time was found to have tested positive after dining out, after which a number of cases have emerged in the community which the Government is working to trace.
Close contacts of positive cases are required to quarantine in a government-approved facility, however with the increase in cases and close contacts, those facilities are now reaching capacity.
As such, the government has decided to shorten the quarantine time for close contacts, additionally taking into consideration the relatively short incubation period for infection with the Omicron mutant strain
Currently, close contacts need to undergo compulsory quarantine for 21 days, counting from the last day of exposure to the locally acquired case tested positive with mutant strain. Effective 10 January, for locally acquired cases that test positive, the duration of quarantine for close contacts has been reduced to 14 days, followed by seven days of self-monitoring. They are also subject to compulsory testing at a community testing centre on day 19.
"Due to the recent surge in cases tested positive, the number of close contacts that needed to be quarantined at quarantine centre increased rapidly in the past few days, putting much pressure on the capacity of quarantine facilities," the government said in a press release.
"Taking into consideration the relatively short incubation period for infection with the Omicron mutant strain, and after consulting the Chief Executive's expert advisory panel, the Government has decided to shorten the duration of quarantine at quarantine centre for close contacts of locally acquired cases."
The regulations on travellers into the city remain unchanged with those flying from areas designated high-risk needing to undergo 21 days mandatory quarantine at a designated hotel while a flight ban on travellers from Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America remains in effect until 21 January.
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