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This new mandate, announced by the Hong Kong government on Tuesday, officially makes this the first airport in the world to require testing for all incoming passengers, Fortune reported.
Starting Wednesday, all incoming travelers at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) will be required to board shuttle buses to a temporary “specimen collection center” set up by the Hong Kong health department, where samples of their “deep throat saliva” will be collected for testing, per a statement issued by the Hong Kong government.
The Department of Health’s temporary testing center is located at the AsiaWorld-Expo, a convention center located Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok island, alongside the airport.
Following testing, those arriving in Hong Kong will be directed to proceed directly to their accommodations for “compulsory quarantine,” which, per the government’s latest protocols, is 14 days for all arriving travelers, even those from mainland China, Macau or Taiwan.
“If a sample tests positive, the CHP will notify the person concerned as early as possible and arrange for admission to a public hospital for treatment,” the government’s press release reads. “In general, if no notification is received within three working days after returning a sample, it means the test result is negative and the person concerned is required to continue the compulsory quarantine until the quarantine period ends.”
Starting on April 9, travelers arriving from the U.K. will also be required to wait for the results of their tests at the expo center. Those who test positive will be admitted to hospitals; those who test negative can continue to their accommodations, homes, or a designated quarantine center for their compulsory quarantines. This particular measure was enacted after Hong Kong officials said they observed a majority of “imported cases” to be from U.K. travelers (248 of 359 recorded over the past 14 days).
“As the testing takes time, the people concerned might need to stay at the venue to wait for 8 hours or more and those arriving at night might have to wait longer. The DH urged for the understanding and patience from inbound travelers on the arrangement.”
Those arriving from Hubei, where the city of Wuhan is located, will be further required to take their own deep throat saliva samples while under compulsory quarantine, and have family or friends deliver it to collection centers.
As first reported by Fortune, Hong Kong’s decision to test all incoming travelers to HKIA makes it the world’s first airport to enact such a measure. Other airports in China have been testing all international passengers, but not necessarily those with passports from China itself.
HKIA’s new regulations are just some of the many it has adopted over the past months in response to the coronavirus health crisis. Other health and safety measures include enhanced disinfection protocols, robot-assisted cleaning, and temperature checks for departing passengers.