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Cebu Pacific flight from Manila banned after 4 passengers test positive for Covid-19

03 September 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Four FDHs aboard Cebu Pacific's Sept 1 flight tested positive on arrival in HK

Hong Kong has suspended Cebu Pacific Airlines flight 5J272  for two weeks starting today, Sept. 3, after four of its passengers tested positive on arrival on Sept. 1.

According to staff at the Health Department, all four infected passengers are foreign domestic helpers and carried the L452R mutant strain.

All were fully vaccinated, three in Hong Kong, and one in the Philippines.

Two of them, aged 35 and 35, developed symptoms on Aug 31, or the day before their flight. The two others, aged 32 and 45, are asymptomatic.

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The ones with symptoms each received two doses of the BioNTech vaccine in Hong Kong between Apr 8 and May 28. The two others had Sinovac jabs, one in Hong Kong, on Apr 8 and May 6, and the other in the Philippines,  on May 29 and Jun 26.

This is the second time this week that a flight from the Philippines has been banned from flying to Hong Kong. 

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Philippine Airlines was suspended from flying in for two weeks starting on Aug 29 after three of its passengers tested positive on arrival in Hong Kong two days earlier. All were also found to carry the L452R mutant strain.

The suspension of the country’s two flag carriers is likely to disrupt the arrival of FDHs who were vaccinated in the Philippines and were allowed to come in starting Monday, Aug 30.

PINDUTIN PARA SA DETALYE

The suspensions mean only two other flights will be able to fly from the Philippine capital in the meantime, Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines.

An estimated 3,000 Filipino DHs are said to have been stranded by a flight ban that Hong Kong imposed on the Philippines on Apr 20 and lifted for locally vaccinated travelers on Aug 9, for FDHs vaccinated in the Philippines on Aug 30, and all other vaccinated travelers on Sept. 1.

Pindutin para sa detalye

DH staff said there were fewer than five preliminary positive cases, but could not say if any of them also involved arrivals from the Philippines.

Meanwhile, a statement from the Centre for Health Protection said that apart from the four confirmed cases, it has deleted five cases compatible with vaccine strain contamination but gave no other details, thus taking Hong Kong’s total Covid-19 tally to 12,113.

A CHP spokesman said all the false positive cases involved local people.

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In view of the recent cases of vaccine strain contamination, the CHP said it has  reviewed all local cases confirmed after the start of the city-wide vaccination program in February this year.

“The genetic analysis of the specimens conducted by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the Department of Health revealed that the specimens of five cases were compatible with the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine strain,” said the spokesman.

One of the cases involved a patient who received a Covid-19 in a community vaccination centre prior to testing, while four went to the same clinic of a doctor who administers the vaccine.

The CHP investigation showed they all involved vaccine strain contamination, so the patients have been deleted from the list of confirmed cases in Hong Kong. 

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