HONG KONG’S new health minister said that electronic tracking bracelets will be introduced from Friday, July 15 to stop residents of the special administrative region of China from breaking the Covid quarantine law.
Health minister Lo Chung-mau said on Monday, July 11 that ‘all Covid patients under home quarantine will have to wear an electronic bracelet in order to prevent them from leaving home.’
AFP journalist Xinqi Su took to Twitter to reveal transcripts of the press conference from Lo Chung-mau in which Hong Kong’s health minister also revealed the tracking bracelets were being introduced because “we can never guarantee that every single citizen will fully observe the rules.”
Following along the lines of China’s health code system, which uses a traffic light system for Covid, Lo said Hong Kong’s LeaveHomeSafe code would now be turned red “for PCR-positive residents to prevent them from all public venues and giving a yellow code to overseas arrivals under mandatory quarantine.”
The government will also consider “replacing part of the 7-day mandatory hotel quarantine with a health monitor at home.”
However, overseas arrivals under mandatory quarantine through the yellow code system “cannot enter high-risk venues eg hospitals and elderly homes and are prevented from high-risk mass-off activities.”
In Hong Kong, Lo said that the reporting of a positive Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) is law although Xinqi Su said this is not the case.
Lo was pressed on whether residents would try to avoid getting slapped with an electronic bracelet by simply not reporting their RAT positive results. Lo said: “not reporting is contravening the law”.
“Reporting RAT positive results to the gov remains a voluntary decision. Not sure which law Lo was referring to,” Su wrote on Twitter.
Obviously, one of the main issues associated with electronic tracking bracelets is the potential for tracking people’s movements in real-time, however, Lo said that “the new codes were meant to prevent infected persons from leaving home and entering public venues and are not designed for real-time movement tracking.”
He also stated that the measures are not associated with a “city-wide lockdown”.
Lo was also pressed on why the new administration had “overturned the previous government’s promise of not adding real-name registration to the LeaveHomeSafe app” to which he said “changes are constant” and that “changing a policy doesn’t mean we are in conflict with the last administration”.
The government have been accused of putting little trust in Hong Kong residents following the announcement about the bracelets, however, Lo said: “Why does Hong Kong need police and the court? Because we can never guarantee that every single citizen will fully observe the rules.”