Hong Kong health authorities have said it will take no more than four hours to analyse Covid-19 swabs of airport arrivals, halving the original time and effectively closing a loophole that allowed airlines to escape a ban for bringing in infected passengers.
The changes, which took effect on Thursday and were enabled by a new laboratory at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), meant coronavirus test results were more likely to be returned on the same day, said Chinese University’s Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, a government adviser on the pandemic.
Previously, results would take eight hours or more, and travelers who arrived in the afternoon or later had to wait overnight at a holding hotel.
Inbound travelers are screened for the virus upon arrival at HKIA, with medical professionals taking nasal and throat swab samples for analysis.
Separately, the government closed another possible loophole involving travelers from Britain. On Thursday, it said anyone who had been in the country – which has been struck by a new Covid-19 strain – for more than two hours within 21 days of boarding would be prevented from flying into Hong Kong. The health minister made the move on the advice of experts.
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