24 July 2008
The Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance (Cap.599) and its subsidiary legislation, the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation (Cap.599A) came into operation on 14 July 2008. The new Ordinance and Regulation have replaced the previous Quarantine and Prevention of Disease Ordinance (Cap.141).
The new legislation covers the prevention, surveillance and control of infectious disease and the cross-boundary spread of disease in respect of Hong Kong residents, travellers, goods and cross-boundary conveyances. Cross-boundary conveyance includes a vessel, vehicle, aircraft and any other means of travel or transport which is engaged on a journey entering or leaving Hong Kong.
The new legislation aims to update Hong Kong's legal framework for the prevention and control of disease, and to bring it in line with the requirements of the International Health Regulations (2005) of the World Health Organisation (the "WHO").
The new Ordinance and Regulation provide for:
1. the establishment of disease surveillance systems to ensure timely detection of diseases and contamination at boundary control points;
2. the implementation of control measures to prevent cross-boundary spread of disease, and the implementation of WHO's recommendations from time to time;
3. a holistic plan of measures with respect to Hong Kong residents, travellers, goods and cross-boundary conveyances for preventing local and cross-boundary spread of diseases.
Examples of measures include:
(a) Disease notification - The operator of a cross-boundary conveyance is required to notify a health officer of cases or sources of a specified infectious disease or contamination on board the conveyance.
(b) Disease prevention - The operator of a point of entry or a cross-boundary conveyance is required to maintain the point of entry or cross-boundary conveyance in a sanitary condition, and to provide reasonable assistance to health officers when executing their powers under the legislation.
(c) Disease control - A health officer may direct an operator of a point of entry or an operator of a conveyance to carry out a disease control measure if the health officer believes that (i) a case or source of a specified infectious disease exists in the place or conveyance concerned or (ii) a point of entry or a cross-boundary conveyance is not in a sanitary condition.
(d) Declaration and certification - The operator of a cross-boundary vessel entering Hong Kong waters is required to submit a Maritime Declaration of Health and produce for inspection a Ship Sanitation Control Exemption Certificate ("SSCEC") or a Ship Sanitation Control Certificate ("SSCC") to a health officer. A health officer may endorse on such Certificate matters relating to the evidence of infection or contamination found on the vessel, the sanitariness of the vessel and the disease control measure that has been or is to be carried out.
Vessel operators should note that the SSCEC and SSCC have replaced the Deratting Certificate and the Deratting Exemption Certificate as the ship hygiene documents. The fees for the SSCEC and SSCC are set out in the new Regulation and are based on the net tonnage of the vessel. No other sanitation certificates will be required for health clearance when the vessel leaves Hong Kong waters.
The operator of a cross-boundary aircraft entering the air space of Hong Kong has to submit the Health Part of the Aircraft General Declaration.
The full text of the new Ordinance and Regulation were published in the following Gazettes which can be accessed at the Government Gazette webpage:firstname.lastname@example.org )