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Source: Hong Kong Information Services

The Department of Health today said it has deployed additional staff and enhanced ancillary facilities to increase the operational efficiency in transferring COVID-19 close contacts to quarantine centres amid the surge in workload.

It made the statement in response to media enquiries about the transfer of COVID-19 close contacts to quarantine centres.

The department noted it has been striving to make arrangements for the transfer of asymptomatic close contacts to quarantine centres for mandatory quarantine as soon as possible to minimise the spread of the virus.

It is closely monitoring the development of the epidemic situation and timely reviewing the manpower requirements to ensure smooth operations.

Since the fourth wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in late November, the department has made internal deployment to strengthen manpower and increased the transfer capacity from 200 close contacts per day to 250 to 300 daily. In the past week, the capacity has reached over 400 on certain days.

The department noted that since late November, the increased number of confirmed cases involved patients in various districts, large clusters and a significant number of close contacts, adding that the number of confirmed cases remains at a high level in early December with an exponential increase in the number of close contacts and an upsurge in workload.

It explained that apart from the daily handling of close contacts of new confirmed cases, the department also needed to handle large-scale evacuations of residents from five residential buildings in the last two weeks.

Most of the staff who were responsible for transferring close contacts to quarantine centres were mobilised to provide on-site support in the evacuation exercises. As a result, some close contacts could not be promptly transferred to quarantine centres.

Staff have made their best endeavour to make arrangements as soon as possible, the department added.

Upon receiving the information of close contacts, the department will arrange designated vehicles to transfer them to quarantine centres as soon as possible.

The arrangement requires inter-departmental collaboration, including the department’s staff to liaise with close contacts and inform the Civil Aid Service and other on-site staff of quarantine centres, the Government Logistics Department to arrange designated vehicles and the Auxiliary Medical Service to escort close contacts.

The Department of Health also needs to call the close contacts to verify their information on the quarantine orders and to check their physical condition to ensure that they are asymptomatic as well as to record their special needs, such as medical needs, food allergy, pets at home and room arrangements.

Close contacts will be informed of the pick-up arrangement and the facilities in quarantine centres. They are also allowed time to pack their belongings for admission to quarantine centres. The process involves substantial liaison and co-ordination, the department said.

It will continue to work in collaboration with government departments and parties concerned to ensure a smooth operation.

MIL OSI Asia Pacific News