HK quarantine wristband washes up on Taiwan shores

A Hong Kong quarantine wristband was found washed up on Qixintang Beach in Hualien, Taiwan on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Ocean Stamps/Facebook)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — A Hong Kong quarantine wristband was found washed up on Qixingtan Beach (七星潭) in Hualien, according to Chinese-language media reports.

According to Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation (黑潮海洋文教基金會) CEO Lin Tung-liang (林東良), a volunteer discovered the wristband with the words “StayHomeSafe” on Sunday and determined from the barnacles stuck on it that it had been at sea for 3 weeks or so.

Lin added that due to safety and health concerns, the volunteer left the wristband where they found it and merely took a photo to document it on Facebook.

Through scanning of the QR Code on the wristband, it has been confirmed to be a quarantine band from Hong Kong.

Lin added that with the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase of face-masks has been detected among the massive amount of garbage scooped from the ocean.

However, seeing a quarantine wristband washed up on Taiwan shore was a first for the CEO. 

Usually, volunteers who help clean up beaches are trained to protect themselves first, and as the garbage could come from anywhere, they are advised to avoid direct contact with them, he continued.

Lin also urged the government to put in place various measures and establish standard operating procedures for what civilians should do if they discover COVID-19 related disposal.  

The “StayHomeSafe” wristband is provided to travelers arriving in Hong Kong to don on while they quarantine for 14 days. 

In addition, as locals express worry over virus residue on the wristband, a doctor from the infectious disease department in Mennonite Christian Hospital, Hualien reassured them by pointing out its 3-week travel in the sea.

The possibility of there being any virus traces left on the wristband is slim to none, so there are no risks of being infected, the doctor said.

As a precaution, authorities in Hualien have issued a statement to locals to alert health authorities should they discover similar items in the future.

The event later drew the attention of international media after it was reposted on the environmental group “Ocean Stamps” Facebook Page.

According to Hong Kong Free Press, Hong Kong’s Innovation and Technology Bureau claimed the wristband is one of three types of disposable electronic wristbands issued and was not considered medical waste.

“After people under quarantine have completed their quarantine period, they can deactivate the mobile application and cut the wristband by themselves, and do not have to arrange for recycling,” the bureau told HKFP.

Among the 410,000 electronic wristbands distributed to those under mandatory quarantine by the Hong Kong government, only 27,000 of those were reusable, the bureau added.