A positive Covid test in Hong Kong starts a traveler on monthlong quarantine. The new regulation is an attempt to curb the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, but it has caused alarm among business travelers who were already weary of flying into one of world’s most populous regions.
A Positive Covid Test in Hong Kong Starts a Business Traveler on Monthlong Quarantine. The “can you test positive for covid twice in a month” is an interesting article that states that the “positive covid test” has been present in Hong Kong for some time now, but only recently have travelers started to take it seriously.
HONG KONG, China— When Yudi Soetjiptadi returned to Hong Kong following a business trip to Africa in December, he knew he’d have to spend a week in a municipal quarantine facility and then another 14 days in a hotel. He was then found to be positive for Covid-19. It was the beginning of a month-long journey.
Mr. Soetjiptadi, who runs his own exhibition company, was in quarantine at Penny’s Bay, a makeshift village of repurposed shipping containers on Fantasy Road near Hong Kong’s Disneyland, when he developed a fever and received a positive test result for the then-new Omicron variant two days after his arrival.
He was sent to the North Lantau Hospital Infection Control Center, which specializes on Covid-19 cases. Inside double-pressurized doors, he was the only patient in a 10-person ward. Doctors and nurses were outfitted in full hazardous gear. They gathered blood samples and X-rayed the patient.
Mr. Soetjiptadi’s fever went away after a day, and he showed no additional signs or symptoms. His stint in the hospital, however, was just starting. It took 19 days for his virus levels to drop to the point where physicians felt he could be released. Then there were nine more days of post-recovery isolation, which was required at the time.
His period in isolation totaled 30 days, including his initial two days at Penny’s Bay.
At North Lantau Hospital, Yudi Soetjiptadi snapped a selfie. ‘Losing control of your freedom was the worst sensation in the world,’ he claimed.
Hong Kong and mainland China are unique among health authorities in that they have some of the tightest coronavirus containment policies in the world. Everyone with a proven Covid-19 infection, even if they are asymptomatic, is required to be hospitalized in both.
Self-isolation and hospitalization are only recommended in many parts of the globe when significant symptoms appear. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least five days of isolation at home after a positive test in the United States.
All of the limitations managed to keep the virus at bay in Hong Kong, with just 213 fatalities reported between January and February 2020. However, the highly infectious Omicron form poses a problem.
The city is now seeing its biggest epidemic since the outbreak began, which police attribute in part to a returning tourist. The city registered more than 300 confirmed cases each day on Saturday and Sunday.
As the number of cases rises, health officials say they’ll start separating mild and asymptomatic patients in Penny’s Bay, where Mr. Soetjiptadi began his isolation.
“Isolating patients is critical to preventing the virus from spreading into the population,” said David Hui, a doctor and respiratory medicine expert who advises the government. According to Dr. Hui, the city is still working to improve the elderly’s poor immunization rate.
Yudi Soetjiptadi was isolated in one of the light rooms with large windows. He took advantage of the opportunity to catch up on work and exercise.
All of the public-health limitations, however, have come at a price. Various flights have been canceled or have been prohibited from many locations. People have missed birthdays and funerals, business people have been stranded in the city or abroad, and some people have complained about feeling shut off from the rest of the world while other regions learn to live with Covid-19.
Mr. Soetjiptadi, who had returned from Cape Town via Johannesburg, Addis Ababa, Nairobi, and Doha, said that 30 days in solitude may leave a person despondent and alienated. “However, it has taught me patience, appreciation for the little things in life, and real friendship.”
Mr. Soetjiptadi, who had been traveling every few weeks throughout his eight years in Hong Kong, started making fewer but longer journeys to cut down on quarantine time. His trip in December was his third quarantine.
The trade-off for Mr. Soetjiptadi’s stringent border restrictions was the assurance that his children would be safe during the epidemic, with few instances locally.
He took advantage of his time alone to catch up on work, following up on inquiries he had received from abroad for his events company.
Meals were provided three times a day to Yudi Soetjiptadi. Bananas and fruits were added when he complained about the absence of fruit.
Mr. Soetjiptadi’s initial ward was gloomy, with sunlight obstructed by another building, but he was shifted to a bright room with large windows a few days later. Mr. Soetjiptadi was back to normal, despite the fact that his Covid-19 tests still showed trace quantities of the virus.
He hooked his laptop into the TV in his room and turned on the music. To get some exercise, he would run up and down the ward. He moved his desk to the opposite side of the room, where he would use Zoom to communicate with customers and manage workers remotely.
Every day at 8 a.m., an alarm sounded, followed by a jingle and a voice on the loudspeaker reminding patients to scan their bar code and take their vitals in different languages. He took his own blood pressure and temperature, as well as the oxygen levels in his body.
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The hospital offered three meals a day, largely local food of vegetables, pork, and rice, while cleaners in hazardous gear came in twice a day. He ordered a burger one day and a steak the next. Bananas and fruits were added when he complained about the absence of fruit.
Every other day, nurses checked Mr. Soetjiptadi, as well as drawing blood samples and administering X-rays. Doctors warned him he wouldn’t be freed unless the virus levels dropped below a particular level.
“It was a difficult task.” “You’re being emotionally challenged on a regular basis, encountering things that may not meet your pleasure or expectations,” he added. “Losing control of your freedom was the worst sensation there is.”
Mr. Soetjiptadi was released after 30 days in isolation. He was not charged for his stay. He rewarded himself with a freshly cooked burger and a drink of Sauvignon Blanc to commemorate his freedom.
Natasha Khan can be reached at [email protected]
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Covid is a test that starts business travelers on a monthlong quarantine if they are positive for the virus. The new rule went into effect in Hong Kong and will be enforced by the government. Reference: covid and travel.
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