Containing the Covid-19 epidemic requires all in society to work together. Mandatory quarantine is a proven way of preventing transmission of the disease among people believed to have been exposed to infection. Those given an order to be isolated cannot argue or procrastinate; it is in the interests of one and all that they follow instructions. But such an arrangement is in effect an agreement and in making such a directive, the government has to ensure that the needs of those involved are properly taken care of. There was a failing in preparedness for Hong Kong’s largest quarantine operation in response to concern over the first local mutated variant of the coronavirus . Amid uncertainty of how it was spreading, residents of buildings where confirmed cases lived in Tung Chung, Tsuen Wan, Quarry Bay and Pok Fu Lam were sent to either the Penny’s Bay quarantine centre or designated hotels. With more than 2,000 people involved, among them the elderly, disabled and children, there had never been an exercise on such a scale since the crisis broke out 16 months ago. The route of transmission having been established, the 21-day quarantine period was cut short at the weekend and those who tested negative have returned home . But there are no shortage of complaints from those unhappy with their treatment during the ordeal. Among the accusations are a claimed poor standard of facilities, tardy response to requests for help, lack of basic necessities and substandard meals. Associated with the latter are reports of an outbreak of food poisoning among several dozen people. The Health Department announced at the weekend that the vendor of the meals involved had been replaced. Those released from mandatory quarantine have strict rules to follow. If they live or work in buildings where there have been confirmed cases of variants, they have to undergo four further coronavirus tests and self-monitor for 21 days. In a further relaxation of restrictions last week, close contacts who are fully vaccinated and not linked with infected patients can self-monitor for one week rather than two . With another day having passed in which there were no confirmed local infections and four imported from overseas, the strict measures to prevent outbreaks would appear to be working. The coronavirus is constantly evolving, posing risks to preventive measures. Community-wide vaccination, regular testing of those in frontline jobs and when cases are suspected or confirmed, mask-wearing in public and good hygiene are the best way of meeting the threat. Mandatory quarantine will at times be necessary and while people have to accept it as a normal part of the response, authorities cannot impose such requirements without first considering the needs of those involved.