Hong Kong records six new cases of Covid-19, all imported, as medical expert urges tougher testing for arrivals from high-risk countries

Elizabeth Cheung
·3-min read

Hong Kong should tighten its coronavirus testing requirements for arrivals from high-risk countries, a medical expert said, as the city recorded six new Covid-19 cases on Friday, all of which were imported.

The latest infections involved two people who arrived from India, with the others coming from Britain, the Philippines, Ethiopia and Indonesia.

The last time the city reported no local cases was October 31, and the new figures took the total number of confirmed infections in Hong Kong to 5,361, with 107 related deaths.

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A 40-year-old aircraft mechanic, who had frequent contact with cargo aircraft staff, was the sole locally infected case on Thursday. The Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company confirmed the man was its staff member.

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Dr Ho Pak-leung, a microbiologist from the University of Hong Kong, said there had been 18 aircrew among the 174 infections recorded in the city since last month, a ratio he called “pretty high”.

He said the city should review its testing requirements for people arriving from high-risk countries, after mainland China tightened its requirements for travellers from India, starting from Saturday.

“Hong Kong should follow [the mainland],” Ho told a radio programme on Friday. “If Hong Kong would like to reopen the border with the mainland [without quarantine requirements].”

Under the new regulations, people travelling from India would need to obtain two negative Covid-19 tests within 72 hours before boarding a flight to mainland China, while the second one must be done within 36 hours before departing. A negative antibody test would also be required.

People who transit during the journey between India and China would need to do the first test within 48 hours before boarding a flight in India, and take the second within 48 hours before boarding a direct flight to China from the transit country. They would also need a negative antibody test result.

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The rules set by the mainland are stricter than Hong Kong, which requires a negative test result within 72 hours before boarding a flight to the city for travellers from high-risk countries, including India.

Ho also urged people to remain vigilant to the flu threat, with official figures showing the ratio of people exhibiting influenza symptoms in private clinics had increased to 17.2 cases per 1,000 consultations last week, from 9.7 in early October.

“In the past two weeks, together with the occurrence of holidays, the public might have lowered their guard a bit,” he said. “There are some dangerous signs shown by different epidemic indicators.”

In a statement on Friday, the Centre for Health Protection said 34 pupils aged between three and five at a kindergarten in Yuen Long exhibited symptoms such as coughs, runny nose and sore throat.

The incident marks the 15th flu outbreak recorded in the city since last week, all of them in kindergartens, primary and special schools, and child care centres. A total of 156 people have been infected in the past fortnight.

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