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PAL banned from flying to HK after 6 passengers found with Covid-19

31 December 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

PAL's passenger flights from Manila have been suspended until Jan 13

Philippine Airlines has been suspended from flying passengers from Manila to Hong Kong for two weeks, after six of its passengers aboard PR300 yesterday, Dec 30, tested preliminary positive for Covid-19 on arrival in Hong Kong.

The six who are all foreign domestic helpers, were not included in the list of 19 confirmed cases reported today, Dec 31, as they will need to test positive for the coronavirus a second time.

The flight ban which will be in force until Jan 13 is likely to throw into further disarray the phased arrival of thousands of FDHs from the Philippines who have been waiting for months to come to Hong Kong.


PAL is the second airline plying the Manila to Hong Kong route to be banned from flying in. Yesterday, Cebu Pacific Airways flight 5J272 was meted the 14-day suspension after three of its passengers tested positive for coronavirus with mutant strains on arrival.

Today, five more passengers of 5J272, all FDHs, were included in the list of confirmed cases. They all flew in on Dec 27, along with the 36-year-old Filipina DH who tested positive on arrival at HK Airport and was today confirmed as the first Omicron carrier from the Philippines.

The five newly confirmed FDHs are all females and are identified as cases no 12642 (42 years old), 12643 (25), 12644 (36), 12645 (25) and 12646 (41).


All of them are asymptomatic but carried the two mutant strains, N501Y and T428K associated with the highly contagious Omicron variant. They tested positive on their third day of quarantine at Penny’s Bay.

Also banned starting today until Jan 13 is Cathay Pacific flight CX873 from San Francisco, after three of its passengers tested positive on arrival in Hong Kong on Dec. 30.

The passengers comprise two females aged 28 and 65, and a 21-year-old male patient. All carried the two mutant strains associated with Omicron.

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Also among the 19 confirmed cases today are two men linked to a Cathay air cargo crew who had gone around the city two days after returning from the United States on Dec 25, and testing negative on arrival.

He was found to have Covid-19 on Dec 28 and later also tested positive for the Omicron variant.

Case 12673 is his 76-year-old father who had lunch with him at Moon Palace restaurant in Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong. Case 12654 is a 34-year-old male construction worker who ate with three relatives in the same restaurant but was at a table about 10 meters away.

The air crew is suspected to have spread Omicron in this Kowloon Tong restaurant

Both patients carried the two mutant strains linked to Omicron.

The rest of the confirmed patients also carried mutant strains. They comprise 10 males and nine females, aged 13 to 76. Five tested positive on their arrival tests and 12 while in quarantine. The two others are the import-related cases linked to the Cathay aircrew.

Among the 17 imported cases, three were in Hong Kong during part of the incubation periods.

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Case 12639 involves a 15-year-old girl who lives at 56 Repulse Bay Road, Block 2, Repulse Bay. She left Hong Kong for the US on Dec 12 and returned on Dec 28 by private jet.

She tested negative on arrival but her specimen taken at Penny’s Bay the next day tested positive. She had a sore throat on the same day and her sample carried the Omicron-related strains.

Case 12641 involves a 13-year-old boy who lives at Tower 1, Kwun Lung Lau, 20 Lung Wah Street, Kennedy Town. He left HK for the United Kingdom on Dec 16 and returned on Dec 25 aboard flight CX252.

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During his mandatory four-day stay at Penny’s Bay he tested negative. However, after he was moved to Best Western Hotel in Sai Ying Pun he tested positive and carried the mutant strains. He is asymptomatic.

Case 12648 involves a 16-year-old male student at West Island School and a resident of Block 2, Coastal Skyline, Tung Chung. He is a family member of an earlier confirmed imported case, 12624. He left HK for the US on Dec 16 and returned on Dec 28 by flight CX881 with case 12621.

A day after being sent to Penny’s Bay as a close contact of an infected patient he tested positive for Covid-19 with the mutant strains.

All the residential blocks of the three patients and the places they had visited during the incubation period, including the older boy’s school, have been included in a compulsory testing notice, in line with regulations.

Meanwhile, the CHP said that after complete genome sequencing, six more patients have been found to carry Omicron, including the Filipina DH who flew in aboard 5J272.

These cases involve three males and three females, aged 19 to 42 years old. Three of them tested positive on arrival tests and the other three tested positive during quarantine.

Including these six, a total of 87 Omicron cases have been detected in Hong Kong so far.

CHP also said that starting Jan 1, 2022, it will designate three categories of cases in its daily press releases. These are confirmed, asymptomatic and re-positive cases.


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