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Quarantine Camp in Lei Yue Mun
Quarantine camp in Lei Yue Mun

How to survive quarantine camp in Hong Kong

An insider’s guide on how to get through it all without losing your damn mind

Fontaine Cheng
Written by
Fontaine Cheng
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As we continue to battle the outbreak, and while we wait for the vaccine to roll out for us all, more action is being taken by the Hong Kong government and the Department of Health to prevent, control and regulate the disease with strict social distancing measures and quarantine camps. And no, I’m not talking about the kind of camp with people singing around an open fire. I’m talking about a government facility put in place to confine and quarantine asymptomatic individuals that have any potential to spread the disease. Yes, now would be an appropriate time to curse profoundly.

Having said that, it’s important to understand that even though it’s not quite the staycation you were looking for, it is the best way to protect those around you and prevent further infection. So, with quarantine camp likely to become a more common situation, I thought I could help normalise the state of affairs (since I personally went through it myself – and survived) by helping you get through it too.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the must-haves for your quarantine camp backpack, how to survive it all, and answer the myriad of questions you might have about it. But before I begin, allow me to remind you about the number one rule to surviving anything. No, it’s not how you can make fire by rubbing sticks together really fast – it’s all about remaining calm.

RECOMMENDED: For more ideas on what to do indoors, don’t forget to check out the best things to do when you’re social distancing and keep track of social distancing rules too.

Why me?

So, the Department of Health has contacted you and announced that you’re going to quarantine camp. First things first, don’t bloody panic! A confirmed case is required to list the places that they have visited and the people that they have been in contact with in order to track potential clusters. For example, if you’ve been with a friend who has tested positive, you’re what they consider a ‘close contact case’, and you will be assigned to a designated facility – including camps, centres, halls, and hotels across Hong Kong – where you must remain in for the mandatory time of 14 days. Failure to comply could result in a fine or imprisonment. 

Hong Kong’s quarantine facility list can be found here.

Shuttle bus on the way to quarantine camp

What do I do before I go?

For now, the best thing to do is to self-isolate and stay at home or, if you are living with someone elderly, stay somewhere within a safe distance. You may also want to inform anyone you have come into contact with, since meeting the confirmed case, to give them a heads up.

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What’s going to happen?

The Department of Health will follow up with a call about escorting you to camp (how’s that for service) and which facility you have been assigned to. Unfortunately, there are no luxury hotels on the list, and you have no choice in the matter as it’s based on capacity and the facility that is available right now. 

When the staff – clad in full PPE gear – come to pick you up at your home, they will need to take a temperature reading with an ear thermometer. So if you have nosy neighbours, you may want to explain beforehand or just be as discreet as possible, so you don’t freak them out!

You do not need to pay for staying in these facilities, be it a hotel or camp room, where you will be provided with a bed, bathroom, and three meals daily. These living essentials are provided, and you may also request items like a mobile data card, extra bottled water, and toiletries etc. while you’re at camp and they will do their best to provide it for you. But, you’ll want to be prepared and pack a few home comforts of your own.

Quarantine camp in Lei Yue Mun

What should I bring?

Disinfectant wipes or spray: though rooms are relatively clean, you’ll want to limit your chance of infection and may prefer to clean to your own standards.

Bed sheets or a sleeping bag: the facilities do provide bedding, but for comfort, you may want to bring your own, as well as an extra blanket or hot water bottle for colder nights.

Clean and comfortable clothes: In the winter months, make sure to pack warmer items of clothing such as hoodies, jumpers, and thick socks.

Slippers and flip flops: since you will be in the room for some time, get comfortable with some room slippers and wear flip flops for the bathroom.

A WiFi egg or data card: you’ll have a lot of time on your hands, so whether you need to work or require entertainment, make sure you have enough data to last you through the quarantine period. 

Books: for those that like to read, bring books or an e-reader to pass the time.

Laptop, or iPad: for work and entertainment. But make sure you pre-download music, movies, or TV shows as not all camps have good connection or WiFi.

An extension cord: the number of power outlets in the room may differ from camp to camp. Bring one if you need to charge multiple devices simultaneously.

Masks: for when you do need to open the door to pick up your meals or drop the waste bag, you should always wear a mask.

Supplementary food: other than your three meals a day, you may want to bring other items such as fruit, instant food packs or cup noodles, and plenty of snacks.

Quarantine camp room in Lei Yue Mun

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Other nice things to have

Yoga mat: for indoor workouts, or stretching.

Lightweight bowl, mug, cutlery, or a Swiss army knife: the camp does provide meals in takeaway trays with plastic cutlery, but if you are making your own, or simply want to enjoy your meals a little more, this will help you do so.

Rice cooker and kettle: a kettle is provided in the room, but you may want to use your own or bring a rice cooker to cook your own meals or warm up food.

Condiments: hot sauce for meal enhancement.

Extra toilet paper: if, like me, you prefer the greatness of a four-ply.

What happens when I’m there?

When you arrive, you will be given a briefing (in Cantonese / English) on the processes of camp, and a gift bag of essentials which include toilet paper, basic toiletries, drinking water, and some snacks. You will also be given an information pack along with a thermometer to check your own temperature at 8am and 4pm daily, which the Department of Health will check-in and ask for as well as surveying that you do not have a fever, or any other symptoms during your stay. 

Within the information pack, there is a food menu that you may select your three meals. For instance, you may request Chinese or Western food, and vegetarian alternatives. Sadly, no gluten-free or keto-friendly menus have been created just yet. There are two numbers included in the information, one of which you can WhatsApp for your meal plan, and the other to WhatsApp or call if you have questions, or other requests – basically quarantine butler service.

A red chemical waste bag is also handed out, in which you must follow the instructions on how to use and dispose of your waste. You will also be asked to do one (or more) deep throat saliva tests and will be provided with a certificate for when you graduate quarantine camp to prove your negative results.

Typical meals at quarantine camp in Lei Yue Mun

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So, what else can I do while I’m there?

– Catch up on work, read books, watch TV shows or movies, and listen to music.

– Write in a diary or journal and document your innermost thoughts and feelings. Or use Instagram stories to tell the world what’s happening.

– Practice those beauty/grooming tutorials you’ve always wanted to try. No one will see you and no one will ever know.

– Take up knitting or cross stitch and challenge yourself to make something by the time camp ends.

– Stretch, meditate, walk around, or workout in your room.

– Call or video call family and friends.

– Jazz up or upgrade your quarantine meals with supplementary items you may have brought with you.

– Do some online shopping. But don’t get too add-to-cart-happy, you may come home to piles of boxes. 

– Think of it as a staycation and enjoy the peace and quiet.

– Sleep. A lot.

Upgrade your meals while you're at quarantine camp

When can I leave and what will happen?

Pending your test results (good luck!), you will be contacted about how to leave the facility. It could be a shuttle bus to a convenient location for pick up, further travel, to or to leave directly on your own accord. Another option is to stay one more night until the next day in which you can leave at a more convenient time. But for everyone else, pack your bags, leave and don’t look back. It is, however, incredibly important to make sure you take all precautions to limit your chances of ever returning to camp.

Leave quarantine camp and don’t look back

For information on coronavirus in Hong Kong, visit coronavirus.gov.hk. If you have more questions, call the Centre for Health Protection hotline: 2125 1111 or 2125 1122 (9am-8pm); Home Affairs Department hotline: 2835 1473 (Mon to Fri 9am-6pm); HKSAR government COVID-19 WhatsApp helpline: 9617 1823.

Want to keep up with Hong Kong's social distancing rules? Check out our full guide below.

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