We came across this viral post in a popular Singapore-based Telegram group:
The post claims that Hong Kong’s new health minister (also known as the Secretary for Health), Lo Chung-mau, has made it mandatory for people in COVID-19 quarantine to wear electronic bracelets in order to prevent them from leaving home. The misspelling of Hong Kong as ‘Honk Kong’ by the original poster may be an expression of derision for the measures being taken by the authorities there.
When investigating the claims made in this post, we found that the details to be corroborated in other reports. The Guardian confirmed that Lo had announced a requirement for electronic bracelets to be mandatory for people who were quarantining at home from Friday, 15 July.
The new measures are not the first time Hong Kong has relied on electronic bracelets to monitor and enforce COVID-19 quarantines. The territory was already using them to monitor arriving passengers in quarantine from March 2020. These measures were in fact replicated by other countries, including Singapore and Israel, as they sought to limit the spread of the disease by infected travellers.
Transcribing Lo’s interview, the Agence France-Press (AFP) journalist Xinqi Su quoted the health minister as stating that the bracelets were ‘meant to prevent infected persons from leaving home and entering public venues and are not designed for real-time movement tracking’.
When questioned why the Hong Kong government had so little trust in its citizens that it required both the bracelet and a China-style ‘traffic light’ red QR code for infected individuals, Lo responded that it was because they could ‘never guarantee that every single citizen will fully observe the rules’.
As such, the claims made in the post are true.