Note: This thread is related to #Coronavirus #COVID19

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Will Ripley+ Your Authors @willripleyCNN CNN correspondent covering #coronavirus in Asia. 19 trips to North Korea. RT not endorsement. Instagram: @willripleycnn www.facebook.com/willripleynews May. 15, 2020 3 min read + Your Authors

The journey from Tokyo to Hong Kong normally takes me about five hours. It’s now been 19 hours since I left Narita airport and I’m still not home, as I await my COVID-19 test result. This is what international travel is like during the coronavirus pandemic. (Thread)

I’ve never seen a gate at Narita like this.

This is one of three flights per week, I’m told. The plane is flying with 109 passengers, around 1/4 capacity.

There are more forms to fill out, including a health declaration and compulsory 14-day quarantine order once I arrive in Hong Kong. Penalty for violating the quarantine: HKD $25,000 and 6 months in jail

Because my flight arrived in Hong Kong in the evening, my COVID-19 test won’t be processed until the following day.

Hong Kong’s airport is a bustling regional hub. To see it like this is surreal and sad. It really hits home how unprecedented this situation is for all of us, especially the travel industry.

This is a first for me. An electronic wristband to monitor my (lack of) movement during my compulsory 14 day quarantine in Hong Kong. Feels like house arrest. I had to install a tracking app that has access to my phone’s location & camera. (Yes, you can shower with the wristband)

I was kinda surprised that my first ever COVID-19 test is “do it yourself.” First, we watch a short video explaining how to do it. Then we go to our assigned booth (I’m booth A16)

My “Deep Throat Sputum Test” takes less than three minutes and basically involves spitting in a cup. I’m told it’s very important to keep the vial upright. Grateful I had a semi private booth to do this.

After my test, I sit. And wait. And wait. And eat some digestives biscuits. And wait. And eat some chiffon cake. And wait.

Finally, we arrive at our Hong Kong government-provided accommodation: The Regal Oriental Hotel in Kowloon. All hotel services are suspended, but we do get a dinner box with chicken wings, rice, and veggies.

Almost nine hours into my journey, I’m now in my hotel room. The card key only works once. You are told not to leave the room once you enter. My results won’t come until the afternoon, most likely. So, I try to get some sleep.

They dropped off breakfast outside my door at 8am. The earliest I can get my test result is 11am (it’s 11:40am as I tweet this). If I test negative, I can begin my compulsory 14 day quarantine. If I test positive, I will be taken by ambulance to hospital.

Am I nervous? Not really. I don’t think I have COVID-19. I’ve been working from home in Tokyo since March. I take my temperature twice daily (no fever). But a lot of cases ARE asymptomatic so that does make me very curious. I really wanna go home...so fingers crossed.

It’s 12:30pm. More than 20 hours into my journey, the COVID-19 test results are in...

Finally heading home. A five hour journey before coronavirus took 21 hours (plus two weeks of mandatory quarantine).

BUT, when it’s over, my family & I get to enjoy a relatively normal life in Hong Kong without too much anxiety about COVID-19. The numbers here remain very low.


You can follow @willripleyCNN.



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