Media Centre

Behind the Pandemic – Airport Security Stands Steadfast at the Quarantine Frontline

01  June  2020

Under the COVID-19 pandemic, various anti-epidemic and quarantine measures have been implemented at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) in coordination with the Government to safeguard the well-being of passengers and airport staff. In the past months, the operations of the measures have been largely smooth, thanks to the support and coordination of the airport community and business partners. In this series, we will hear the stories of these unsung heroes who have been crucial in the operations of the airport in face of the pandemic.

When travelling, you may have seen airport security staff around the airport carrying out airport safety related duties like verifying documents and bag checks. Yet since February, some of them have been assigned to a new mission – performing quarantine related duties at the very frontline.

Issac has been an airport security staff for more than two years. He used to be mainly responsible for checking documents for departing passengers. Since February, he has been assigned to the frontlines of quarantine duties, including temperature checks for transit passengers, assisting travellers in putting on electronic tracking wristbands, and explaining the quarantine order.

Issac has to explain and check whether the arriving passengers fulfill the requirement of having a designated accommodation for their 14-day compulsory quarantine. He recalled that some travellers might not have received the most updated information and misunderstood that they would be sent to quarantine camps, thus have not arranged any local accommodation. He would need to explain to them the quarantine order and help them arrange last-minute accommodation reservations so they can enter Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Amen, who joined the ranks of airport security staff five years ago, has been tasked to assist the collection of deep throat saliva samples for testing, such as distributing specimen bottles and checking storage temperature of the specimen collected. Amen said she had volunteered to join the frontline.

“Someone has to do the job after all. I do not have much worries. Our company has provided us with enough personal protective equipment, including face shield, protective gowns, gloves and face mask. I feel very safe,” said Amen.

Issac was very alert when he knew he was assigned to the frontline to face arriving passengers. “I would be more aware of my personal hygiene, and wash my hands as frequently as I could. Sometimes my co-workers and I would share a light moment to ease off the tension,” added Issac, “It is my honour to be a part of this duty to safeguard the city, and assist Hong Kong in finding undetected patients.”

Amen said that it would brighten her day when she received words of encouragement from passengers.  “They would say ‘thanks for the hard work’ and tell us to hang in there,” said Amen, smiling.

Jacob Cheung, Executive Director of Aviation Security Company Limited (AVSECO), said that their staff have been playing the important role of gatekeepers of Hong Kong, ensuring that visitors are well taken care of. “It is a new challenge for us, but with internal communication and trainings, appropriate gears, as well as the health suggestions and procedures from the Department of Health, our staff are not deterred. In fact they have become more enthusiastic with their work. We are grateful for their contribution during this pandemic, and hope they can keep up the good work,” said Mr Cheung.

Beginning in February, AVSECO staff have been tasked to perform quarantine-related duties, including temperature checks, checking health declaration forms and putting on electronic tracking wristbands, distribution and collection of containers for saliva test, escorting inbound passengers, and facilitating the return of charter flights for Hong Kong residents. Around 400 staff have been tasked to quarantine related posts.

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