Hong Kong police have arrested an elderly man who escaped from compulsory quarantine in a Tsim Sha Tsui hotel after recently arriving in the city from Europe.
The 75-year-old man was detained in Sheung Wan on Monday evening after spending about a day on the run, according to a police source.
He had recently landed in Hong Kong after taking a flight from Italy and then checked into the Ramada Hong Kong Grand, a designated quarantine hotel on Austin Avenue.
A government spokesman late on Monday said the Centre for Health Protection would test the man for Covid-19 as soon as possible. The authorities would also consider prosecuting him, he added.
The hotel had notified the Department of Health on Saturday that the man had stepped out of his room and lingered in the corridor without permission, contravening the compulsory quarantine order.
He was asked by hotel staff to return to his room.
Under an established mechanism, the Centre for Health Protection reported the case to the compliance team of the designated quarantine hotel scheme, a department spokesman said.
At about 1pm the next day, when a vehicle from the Auxiliary Medical Service was sent to pick up the man to take him to a quarantine centre, he was found to be missing.
Surveillance footage showed that he left the hotel at about 11am and walked to Nathan Road along Hillwood Road. The department alerted police and a search was launched.
The police insider said the man went to another hotel in Wan Chai on Sunday but left without checking out.
He then approached Lai Yan Nursing Home, on Queen’s Road West in Sheung Wan, where he had been living before he left Hong Kong for Italy late last month.
He asked care home staff if he could stay there but they alerted police who arrested him.
He was taken to Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre for isolation.
The government spokesman did not respond to inquiries for further details of the man’s movements after he fled from the Tsim Sha Tsui hotel.
A health department spokesman said the authorities expressed deep concern and attached great importance to the incident.
“The government strongly appeals to people under quarantine to follow the quarantine requirements strictly to protect the health of themselves and others,” he said.
Escaping from quarantine without permission is a criminal offence and offenders are subject to a maximum fine of HK$25,000 (US$3,200) and six months’ imprisonment upon conviction.