Tourists will be barred from Hong Kong, faulty wristbands allow quarantined to wander free

28 Mar, 2020 03:33
source: Singularity Financial

Singularity Financial Hong Kong March 28, 2020 – Author: Carl

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam put in place tougher measures on Wednesday (March 25) to fight another “most difficult and challenging wave” of the coronavirus pandemic: Surging numbers abroad and the returning residents who are bringing the disease back home.

The city confirmed 24 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, mostly people returning from overseas, which took the total to 410, more than doubling the count from a week ago. Four patients have died so far in Hong Kong.

“The situation will be more severe and difficult to handle than any period in the past two months, and may even lead to a large-scale and continuous outbreak in the community.” Lam explained that it’s time to adjust.

As of Wednesday (March 25), only residents will be allowed back in the territory. This much delayed order came days later comparing to its neighbors Singapore and Taiwan.

Foreign non-residents will be barred from entering or transiting through Hong Kong for 14 days. It will also ban travelers from mainland China, along with Macao and Taiwan, if they have visited foreign countries over the past two weeks.

At the mean time, civil servants are back working at home and strict quarantine measures are in place once again. The government would amend the law to suspend the sale of alcohol in licensed bars and restaurants in the city.

Faulty wristbands allow quarantined to wander free

A glitch in Hong Kong’s electronic tracking system, designed to ensure people under compulsory quarantine orders stay at home, could potentially allow many to go outside undetected.

Some Hong Kong residents returning from overseas have found they can’t register with the app that’s meant to track their movements via their mobile phone, meaning authorities have no information on their whereabouts during the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine period.

Several video clips and photos released by media, show people who are under quarantine going out for dinners, grocery shopping or taking public rides, sparking public uproars as the city battles a surge in coronavirus cases and its leader warned of zero tolerance against anyone breaking self-isolation rules.

There are around 24,000 tracker bracelets the government has distributed to monitor new arrivals. The band is meant to connect to an app that sends out alerts asking the person to take pictures of themselves wearing the wristband, and issues warnings if it senses the person had left their place of residence. The device detects and analyzes radio signals, including bluetooth and wifi, as well as geographical location signals when it’s activated.

Hong Kong stands out, errors have been swiftly pointed out

“Of all the places in the world to ride out the coronavirus crisis, I can think of few better than Hong Kong. Yes, its government has made a few mistakes, most prominent among them a lack of preparedness in crucial areas. But Hongkongers are a tough and critical lot and the errors have been swiftly pointed out and, often enough, rectified.” SCMP Columnist Peter Kammerer praised Hong Kong government’s medical efforts.

“Hong Kong stands out, along with Singapore and Macau, as having relatively low rates of infection, despite their proximity to mainland China and large number of travellers.” he wrote.