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CE says new measures to curb movements of aircrew enough for now

16 November 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap

CE Lam says further restrictions on cargo pilots could disrupt Hong Kong's food supply

Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that the measures taken by Cathay Pacific in further restricting the movements of air crew after three of its cargo pilots tested positive for Covid-19 are appropriate for now.

Speaking ahead of today’s Executive Council meeting, Mrs Lam said any further restrictions could affect Hong Kong’s food supply, which mainly comes from overseas.

As it is, the decision by authorities to order 130 Cathay cargo pilots into 21-day quarantine as they had stayed in the same hotel in Germany as the three infected air crew has already affected the supply of goods to the territory, said Mrs Lam.


She noted that Cathay has taken additional steps to limit the movements of its aircrew by not allowing them to go out in the first three days of their return to Hong Kong unless for essential errands such as to get food or see a doctor, and avoid social gatherings.

“These measures were the result of talks between the Transport and Housing Bureau and Cathay Pacific in the past few days, so it wasn’t up to the airline alone,” she said.

But the CE warned further measures could be taken should a further increase in infections among the aircrew adversely affect Hong Kong’s pandemic response.


Meanwhile, the Centre for Health Protection said in a press statement that its latest investigation has revealed that the cases of the three cargo pilots have almost identical genetic sequence.

This means, the three have “very likely to have acquired the infection during their stay in Germany,” said the statement.

CHP earlier said the infection must have occurred in a hotel in Frankfurt where the first two pilots had checked in on Nov 1, and the third, on Nov 2.

CHP says the 3 cargo flights acquired their infection from staying in the same hotel in Germany

All three pilots tested positive for Covid-19 with the L452R mutant strain three days after arriving in Hong Kong, and being allowed to go home in line with their quarantine exemptions.


The CHP also revealed that its investigation has revealed an almost identical genetic sequence in the cases of two men found to have the highly infectious Delta plus variant after staying next to each other at Four Points Hotel in Tung Chung.

This reinforces experts’ finding that the first case, 12374, had infected his next-door neighbor, 12382, probably after releasing the virus into the air while exercising.

CHP said it collected 73 environmental samples from rooms on the 15th floor of the hotel’s north wing where the men had stayed, and 13 of these had tested positive for Covid-19. Another eight samples tested indeterminate.

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Five of the positive samples were taken from inside room 1515 where the index patient who came from the United Kingdom had stayed, while eight were from 1517, which was occupied by the second patient from Thailand.

As a precaution, CHP transferred a total of 44 guests who had stayed on the floor concerned from Nov 1 to 6, to Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre.


As of midnight last night, only one confirmed case of Covid-19 was detected, involving a 21-year-old woman who flew in from India, and tested positive on her arrival test.

She took Hong Kong’s total Covid tally to 12,388 confirmed cases and one probable case.

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