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Policies on separating children from parents in quarantine

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Dear Department of Health,
Referring to a letter to the editor by Waheed Butt (appended) https://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/art... here are the questions for the department to answer under the Code on Access to Information

1) What are the guidelines for department staff to handle cases described in the letter “ my younger son took one small step out of his hotel room to grab a packet of potato chips that his brother had thrown out of the room while their mother was putting out the garbage bag.” While you may not comment on individual cases it is important to inform the public about the general guidelines.

2) Under what circumstances are the staff authorized to separate children from their parents under quarantine?

3) What steps could the affected families take to complain or ask for review of the decisions to separate them? Which team in the department is responsible for dealing with such complaints?

Please also consider writing a letter in SCMP in response. If the department was not involved in the incident please let me know which government departments should be contacted. Thanks in advance.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Simon Wang, Ph.D., FHEA
Lecturer in English
Language Centre
Hong Kong Baptist University
Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong
Phone: (852) 34117044
http://lc.hkbu.edu.hk/staff_simon.php
Writing for the Public Project https://sites.google.com/a/hkbu.edu.hk/w...

Letter by Waheed Butt https://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/art...

March 4 was the worst day of my entire life. About a dozen officers working for the authorities took away both my sons, aged 14 and 19, from our quarantine hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui to an unknown place like criminals, in front of their begging and crying helpless mother. It was all because my younger son took one small step out of his hotel room to grab a packet of potato chips that his brother had thrown out of the room while their mother was putting out the garbage bag.

A 14-year-old child who is unaware of the law and has made a small mistake should be warned, if not ignored or obliged, but this is not a view the authorities subscribe to. In this situation, they did not show any mercy or offer any help in the face of our pleas not to punish us.
They took away both my sons and are keeping them apart from us, their parents, for 10 days. Our frightened children are locked up in a room, without their required Muslim meal, leaving their crying parents filled with tension and feeling like we are worse than animals, but there are still rules about treating animals well.

We are a family of five who arrived in Hong Kong from Pakistan and have been staying in the hotel since February 21, subject to quarantine terms and conditions for 21 days. We travelled a long way to come to Hong Kong and suffered a lot of problems and difficult conditions along the way, strong in our belief and hope that everything would be fine as soon as we reached the city.
We were not aware of how we would be treated worse than animals here.

We humbly request and beg the relevant Hong Kong authorities and policymakers to reconsider the quarantine laws with mercy, especially for children and families. Please give thought to the laws and approaches of other countries around the world for the sake of Hong Kong people’s convenience, comfort and affordability to foster a better quality of life in the city.
Waheed Butt, Kwai Chung

Department of Health

I am out of the office until 11/03/2021.

For urgent matters, please contact Miss Denise WONG at 3107 2570 / &DH/SCO
[Per]3 or Miss Jackie LAM, CO(Per)4 at 3107 2571 / &DH/CO[Per]4.

Note: This is an automated response to your message "Freedom of Information
request - Policies on separating children from parents in quarantine" sent
on 10.03.2021 05:58:42 AM.

This is the only notification you will receive while this person is away.

Department of Health

Dear Dr Simon Wang,

Referring to your preceding email , please be advised that part of the
requested information /the requested information is under the purview of
the Food and Health Bureau ("FHB").   Subject to your consent of providing
the preceding email to FHB, we will refer your case to FHB accordingly.
 Grateful if you would reply to me by 17.3.2021.  

If you have any enquiry, please contact me at 3107 2570.  Thank you.

Regards,
Miss Denise WONG
for Department of Health

show quoted sections

Dear Sir/Madam
Please kindly forward my request to FHB. Thanks.

Yours faithfully,
Simon Wang

Dear Sir/Madam,
Please forward my request to FHB. Thank you.
Yours faithfully,

Simon Wang

Dear Dr Simon Wang,

Referring to your preceding email , please be advised that part of the
requested information /the requested information is under the purview of
the Food and Health Bureau ("FHB"). Subject to your consent of providing
the preceding email to FHB, we will refer your case to FHB accordingly.
Grateful if you would reply to me by 17.3.2021.

If you have any enquiry, please contact me at 3107 2570. Thank you.

Regards,
Miss Denise WONG
for Department of Health

Department of Health

Dear Dr Wang,

Our department has received your application for access to information on
10.3.2021.

Your application is now under processing.  According to paragraph 1.16 of
the Code on Access to Information, Food and Health Bureau or our
department, as appropriate, will inform you of the latest progress of the
case separately on or before 30.3.2021.

If you have any enquiries, please contact me at 3107 2593.  Thank you.

Regards,
Ms Sophy KWOK
for Director of Health

show quoted sections

Department of Health

1 Attachment

Dear Dr Wang,

Regarding your request of information, please find our reply in the file
attached.

Regards,

(Ms Wing LAU)
for Director of Health

==============================

From:        Simon Wang <[FOI #570 email]>
To:        FOI requests at Department of Health <[Department of Health request email]>
Date:        10/03/2021 06:33
Subject:        Freedom of Information request - Policies on separating
children from parents in quarantine

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Department of Health,
           Referring to a letter to the editor by Waheed Butt (appended)
[1]https://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/art...
here are the questions for the department to answer under the Code on
Access to Information

1) What are the guidelines for department staff to handle cases described
in the letter “ my younger son took one small step out of his hotel room
to grab a packet of potato chips that his brother had thrown out of the
room while their mother was putting out the garbage bag.” While you may
not comment on individual cases it is important to inform the public about
the general guidelines.

2) Under what circumstances are the staff authorized to separate children
from their parents under quarantine?

3) What steps could the affected families take to complain or ask for
review of the decisions to separate them? Which team in the department is
responsible for dealing with such complaints?

Please also consider writing a letter in SCMP in response. If the
department was not involved in the incident please let me know which
government departments should be contacted. Thanks in advance.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Simon Wang, Ph.D., FHEA
Lecturer in English
Language Centre
Hong Kong Baptist University
Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong
Phone: (852) 34117044
[2]http://lc.hkbu.edu.hk/staff_simon.php  
Writing for the Public Project
[3]https://sites.google.com/a/hkbu.edu.hk/w...

Letter by Waheed Butt
[4]https://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/art...

March 4 was the worst day of my entire life. About a dozen officers
working for the authorities took away both my sons, aged 14 and 19, from
our quarantine hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui to an unknown place like criminals,
in front of their begging and crying helpless mother. It was all because
my younger son took one small step out of his hotel room to grab a packet
of potato chips that his brother had thrown out of the room while their
mother was putting out the garbage bag.

A 14-year-old child who is unaware of the law and has made a small mistake
should be warned, if not ignored or obliged, but this is not a view the
authorities subscribe to. In this situation, they did not show any mercy
or offer any help in the face of our pleas not to punish us.
They took away both my sons and are keeping them apart from us, their
parents, for 10 days. Our frightened children are locked up in a room,
without their required Muslim meal, leaving their crying parents filled
with tension and feeling like we are worse than animals, but there are
still rules about treating animals well.

We are a family of five who arrived in Hong Kong from Pakistan and have
been staying in the hotel since February 21, subject to quarantine terms
and conditions for 21 days. We travelled a long way to come to Hong Kong
and suffered a lot of problems and difficult conditions along the way,
strong in our belief and hope that everything would be fine as soon as we
reached the city.
We were not aware of how we would be treated worse than animals here.

We humbly request and beg the relevant Hong Kong authorities and
policymakers to reconsider the quarantine laws with mercy, especially for
children and families. Please give thought to the laws and approaches of
other countries around the world for the sake of Hong Kong people’s
convenience, comfort and affordability to foster a better quality of life
in the city.
Waheed Butt, Kwai Chung

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References

Visible links
1. https://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/art...
2. http://lc.hkbu.edu.hk/staff_simon.php
3. https://sites.google.com/a/hkbu.edu.hk/w...
4. https://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/art...
5. https://accessinfo.hk/en/change_request/...
6. https://accessinfo.hk/en/help/officers

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Simon Wang please sign in and let everyone know.