Police will issue arrest warrants for two people who absconded from their mandatory 14-day home quarantines as Hong Kong continues to grapple with the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Health Secretary Sophia Chan told reporters at a daily press conference on Monday that 1,193 people — of whom 90 percent are Hongkongers — have been given quarantine orders since Saturday, after the government imposed measures compelling all travelers entering Hong Kong from the mainland to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Under the scheme, Hong Kong residents are required to quarantine themselves in their own homes, while non-locals will be quarantined in hotels or quarantine centers.
Of the nearly 1,200 people put into quarantine, nine were found to have left their “designated premises.” While seven of those people were simply given a warning, the whereabouts of the remaining two aren’t yet known.
“I have to remind these people, violating the quarantine order is a criminal offense,” Chan said, reiterating that those who break quarantine could face a maximum fine of HK$25,000 (US$3,200), and up to six months behind bars.
Chan also said warned that those being quarantined at home or in a hotel will be put on a sort of three-strike system should they violate the order: strike one will be met with a warning, strike two will result in them being given an electronic monitoring tag, and strike three will see them transferred to a quarantine camp.
Deputy Secretary for Food and Health Daniel Cheng said that seven of the nine quarantine violators were given warnings after leaving their designated premises for reasons like buying food and necessities — and, in at least one case, being asleep and not responding when police knocked on their doors.
“No one mentioned that they went to work or any entertainment places; none of them said so,” Cheng noted.
Cheng was unable to confirm whether the two missing people are mainlanders or locals.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Health Protection has announced that two more patients in Hong Kong have been confirmed as having the coronavirus, bringing the total tally of confirmed cases to 38.
The two new cases include a 55-year-old woman who also took part in a family hotpot gathering in Kwun Tong on Jan. 26 that is believed to have infected nine others. She went to see a private doctor after developing a fever and runny nose on Jan. 30, and was eventually admitted to Prince of Wales Hospital.
The other new case is a 69-year-old male who lives in Sai Wan Ho with his mother-in-law and wife, who are now both in quarantine. The 69-year-old hadn’t traveled outside of Hong Kong in the past 14 days — the typical incubation period for the virus — and was admitted to Eastern Hospital after experiencing shortness of breath.