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HK confirms first local Covid-19 case in 51 days

08 October 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Chuang tells reporters the source of the local infection is unknown

A 48-year-old man who works as a cargo handler at Hong Kong International Airport was confirmed today, Oct. 8, as the city’s first local case of Covid-19 in 51 days.

Health Department officials held a rare press conference today to confirm the man’s infection, whose source is not known. Another case involving a returnee from the United Kingdom was also reported.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan from the DH’s Centre for Health Protection said the fully vaccinated airport worker tested positive for the L452R strain, and was detected to have a high viral load, indicating a recent infection.

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“At this point in time we don’t have any link to this case. That means, hopefully, that he has a recent onset case of the virus that has not spread to the community,” Chuang said.

Around 90 colleagues of the man who had shared a resting area with him at the airport have been moved to a quarantine center, as well as his close contacts.

So far, no one has tested positive for the virus.


“We are sending them all to quarantine at the moment so there’s less risk of spreading the virus,” said Chuang.

An overnight lockdown of the patient’s residential block in Shatin did not uncover any infection, either.

Chuang said one theory was that the man caught the virus from a passenger in transit, but there was no known confirmed case from the flights he served, so the CHP will do a genome sequencing to try and find out the source of infection.

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At some point, there was fear that his 8-year-old daughter had caught the virus from him as she developed a runny nose and cough on Oct. 4. One of the girl’s classmates and her mother had the same symptoms, but after testing, they were all found to have upper respiratory tract infection and not Covid-19.

As a frontline staff at the airport who handled goods coming from the United States, Europe and the Middle East, the man was tested weekly for Covid-19.

His last test on Sept 29 turned out negative. But the one on Oct 6 showed he carried the mutated form of the coronavirus with a CT value of 28 to 31.

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After he was admitted to hospital on Oct 7, he developed a sore throat and the CT value dropped to 15 to 18, indicating a heavier viral load.

As his co-workers are also tested regularly, there’s only a small chance that an unknown transmission has occurred among them, said Chuang.

The second case today involves a male returnee from the UK

The only other recorded case today involves a 29-year-old returnee from the UK who was in quarantine at Dorsett Hotel in Kwai Chung when he was found infected. He had two doses of the BioNTech vaccine in Hong Kong and tested positive for antibodies.

The new cases took Hong Kong’s total Covid-19 tally to 12,253.

Meanwhile, the CHP said it is also investigating two overseas cases involving Hong Kong residents.

The first pertains to a 10-year-old boy who traveled to the UK with his family on Sept 28 by flight CX251. His specimen collected in the UK on Sept 30 tested positive. He developed symptoms on Oct 2.

Two days before his flight, he tested negative for the virus in Hong Kong.

As a precaution, his residential building at 11D Ngau Keng Tsuen, Pat Heung, Yuen Long, has been put under a compulsory testing notice.

The second case involves a 20-year-old male patient who traveled to the UK on Sept 25 on flight VS207. Two days before his flight, he tested negative for a test conducted in Hong Kong.

But his specimen collected in the UK on Sept 28 tested positive. He is asymptomatic and received two doses of the BioNTech vaccine in Hong Kong.

His residential building, Tower 8 of Pacific Palisades in North Point, has also been put under CTN.

The CHP also announced that Emirates flight EK384 from Dubai and Bangkok has been suspended for two weeks after two of its passengers tested positive on arriving in Hong Kong, while one failed to comply with pre-boarding requirements. The ban will be enforced from Oct 8 to 21.

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