With many Hong Kong residents participating in the city’s free Covid-19 vaccination programme, and social distancing measures being further relaxed on June 30, the idea of foreign travel felt like it was becoming more and more of a reality for many Hongkongers.
After a period of the government accepting approved Covid-19 antibody tests from fully-vaccinated inbound travellers to Hong Kong, resulting in reduced hotel quarantine time, the scheme will be suspended from August 20 onwards. The reason for the suspension is cited as the increased threat of the more contagious "Delta variant" which is causing new waves of infection in countries around the world.
This means that inbound travellers from "Group B" countries––who would previously have been able to reduce their quarantine time from 7 days with an antibody test––will now have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 14 days.
Arrivals from "Group A" countries––which as of August 20 includes Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Malaysia, Nepal, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom––will have to undergo 21 days hotel quarantine. The new measures apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated inbound travellers.
What is Covid-19 antibody testing?
Also known as serology testing, an antibody test is used to detect whether your blood has antibodies for a virus or disease. Your body produces antibodies when you have an infection as part of your immune system’s response and to help you fight the infection.
Antibody tests are done by taking a small amount of blood, which is then tested in a lab to see if antibodies are present. Covid-19 antibodies in a patient’s blood can be a sign that they have either had Covid-19 before or that their body has produced them following vaccination against Covid-19.
Although the presence of antibodies cannot guarantee protection against contracting or spreading Covid-19, antibody tests are now being used by the Hong Kong government to indicate that travellers have produced an immune response following vaccination.
Currently, the Hong Kong government has suspended the use of "proof of antibodies" to reduce inbound travellers' hotel quarantine. As of August 17, there is no indication when this will be reinstated.