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HK suspends PAL, Turkish Air flights for carrying 6 infected passengers

29 August 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao

3 PAL passengers tested positive for a variant on arrival in HK

Hong Kong has barred flights by Philippine Airlines from Manila and Turkish Airlines from Istanbul after the two airlines each carried three passengers on Friday who tested positive for Covid-19 with the L452R mutated strain on arrival test. All were asymptomatic.

The two-week ban is activated when at least three passengers on the same flight test positive for a coronavirus variant on arrival in Hong Kong, or five on different flights within a week.  


Today’s tally also included a seventh traveler, a 68-year-old man who returned from London last Wednesday, and who was also found to carry the variant.

All the new patients have been fully vaccinated, the Centre for Health Protection said.

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The infected arrivals from the Philippines were made up of a female domestic helper and two Hong Kong residents, a man and a woman.

All three Filipinos arrived on Aug 27 on PAL flight PR300, said a government information staff.


The helper, aged 45, received her two BioNTech doses in Hong Kong on Mar 23 and Apr 16 before taking a vacation.

The two other Filipinos, a 45-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, both had their two doses of the Sinovac jab in Hong Kong on Mar 3 and 31.


They all tested negative before departing Manila but samples collected from them upon arrival at the Hong Kong International Airport returned positive results on Saturday.

The new arrivals from Istanbul, a man and two women, flew in aboard flight TK083 also on Aug 27.

The man, 35, received BioNTech jabs in Hong Kong on May 8 and May 31. The women, aged 22 and 66, also received the BioNTech vaccine in the United Kingdom on Jun 27 and Jul 22.

Turkish Air also carried 3 passengers with the mutant virus

Meanwhile, the man who came from the UK left HK on Aug 15 and returned on Aug 25,  

He received two doses of the BioNTech vaccine in HK on Apr 13 and May 4.

Although he developed symptoms on his arrival in HK his specimen tested negative for Covid-19. He was found to carry the mutant strain on his third day of quarantine at Best Western Hotel in Causeway Bay.

As he was in HK partly during the incubation period, his residential block in Sunrise, Discovery Bay and places he visited have been put under compulsory testing notice.

The CHP is also investigating a re-positive overseas case, a woman aged 29 who was carrying the L452R mutant strain.

The CHP said she traveled to the UK, Spain and Portugal since the end of June and returned to Hong Kong on Aug 19 on flight EK384. Specimen collected from her upon arrival at the airport tested negative.

The patient received two doses of BioNTech vaccine on Mar 18 and Apr 8 in Hong Kong. Her blood sample collected on Jun 23 was positive for antibodies.

She stayed in a designated quarantine hotel from Aug 19 to 25 and moved to her residence at 208 Shek O Village, afterwards.

Her specimen collected on Aug 27 at a community testing centre was found to carry the L452R strain of the coronavirus.
The patient reportedly said she had symptoms in early August and tested positive for Covid-19 in Portugal. She went into self-isolation and tested negative before leaving Lisbon. She was asymptomatic. The CHP classified her as a re-positive overseas case. 
Her house in Shek O and places she visited during the incubation period have been included in a compulsory testing notice.

Meanwhile, the operators of two cargo vessels, Asia Energy and Thor Monadic, who were suspected of providing false information to the DH in applying for free pratique, or permission to make a port call after showing a clean bill of health, were reported to the police.

CHP said its investigation is ongoing.

Fifteen of 17 patients confirmed on Friday are sea crew of Thor Monadic, a Singapore-flagged vessel that arrived in Hong Kong waters on Aug 24 from Indonesia. All tested positive for the L452R mutant strain of the coronavirus.  

On the other hand, Asia Energy, an oil tanker which arrived from South Korea on Aug 8, was found to carry a 38-year-old male crew member who developed symptoms on July 12, but was confirmed positive only on Aug 10, two days after the vessel arrived in HK. 

The vessel is still anchored off Lamma Island under quarantine, the DH staff said.


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