Recreation centre in Hong Kong to be converted into monkeypox quarantine site

Health officials say Sai Kung Outdoor Recreation Centre to be repurposed into quarantine facility for close contacts of monkeypox patients from Tuesday.

An outdoor recreation centre is set to be converted into a quarantine facility for close contacts of monkeypox patients after Hong Kong earlier recorded its first confirmed case from overseas.

Health officials on Monday night said the Sai Kung Outdoor Recreation Centre on Hong Kin Road would be repurposed from Tuesday as part of the government’s response plan to prevent the spread of the disease.

Authorities put the strategy into action when a 30-year-old man became the city’s first case of monkeypox last Tuesday after returning to Hong Kong from the Philippines on Philippine Airlines flight 300 on September 5.

The patient’s recent travel history also included Canada and the United States, with health officials saying they suspected he had contracted the disease in the latter country.

While none of the about 80 passengers or crew aboard who shared the flight with the man were identified as close contacts, authorities have reached out to all of them for testing samples, as well as any hotel staff and medical workers who came near the patient.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said the recreation centre could provide about 100 beds, with the site to remain in use based on whether there were any local transmissions of the disease.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which manages the centre in Sai Kung, had previously announced the temporary closure of the venue from Tuesday, but had not revealed any further details at the time.

The department had earlier said the centre would reopen as an outdoor recreation venue from August 25, after it was originally used as a coronavirus isolation facility.

Authorities in Hong Kong have listed monkeypox as a statutory notifiable disease, meaning doctors are required to report suspected or confirmed cases to the Centre for Health Protection.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 35,000 cases of the disease were reported across 92 countries and territories as of August 17, including 12 deaths.