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First Covid-19 vaccines arrive in HK, residents urged to get jabs early

19 February 2021

By Daisy C L Mandap 

Key government officials were on hand to receive the first Covid-19 vaccines from Sinovac

The first coronavirus vaccines arrived in Hong Kong today, Feb 19, marking what Health Secretary Dr Sophia Chan called as “a very important milestone” in the city’s fight against the epidemic.

The first 1 million doses of the vaccine from Sinovac was flown in via Cathay Pacific flight CX391 from Beijing and landed at about 5:30pm, shortly after health officials reported 13 new Covid-19 cases.

On hand to meet the shipment, apart from Dr Chan, was Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip.

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“Today is a very happy occasion where the Sinovac vaccines, a million doses, have arrived in Hong Kong,” Chan said, shortly before leading the inspection of the consignment.\

“It’s indeed a very importantmilestone for all the Covid-19 prevention and control work that we have been doing. All the vaccines that we have authorised for emergency use is through the hard work of our expert panel and proven to be effective, of quality and also safe.”

She and Nip appealed to the public to take part in the city’s free vaccination program.

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“The program will give us hope to control and end the epidemic as early as possible,” said Nip, who also announced that the mass inoculation will begin early next week.

“Let’s get vaccinated early to protect ourselves and others.”

The second shipment of vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech is scheduled to arrive later this month.

The precious cargo was flown in from Beijing

Various reports said Chief Secretary Carrie Lam and her senior officials will be the first to receive the Sinovac jabs on Monday. Members of the Executive and Legislative Councils will get the vaccine on the same day.


On Tuesday, the online registration for receiving the vaccine will start, amid what looks like a lukewarm response to the program from the public.

A new survey shows only 39% of the city’s 7.5 million people are interested in getting the jab, amid worries about its adverse effects, especially on the elderly.

But Nip said in an earlier interview that the government had given priority to elderly people because they are a vulnerable group.


He also said the government would abide by suggestions made by a panel of experts before implementing its inoculation plan.

Apart from those aged 60 and older, those given priority for the vaccine are health workers, residents and staff of care homes, those providing essential public services such as the disciplined forces, postal and hygiene workers; and cross-border transport workers, like truck drivers, air and sea crew, and fishermen.

The inoculation is free for all of the city’s 7.5 million people, who will also be insured by the government for any adverse effect of the vaccine on their health.

Au says more hidden infections acquired over the long holiday could emerge

Meanwhile, the Center for Health Protection announced at today’s press briefing that 12 of the new cases were locally acquired, with eight of them from unknown sources.

The sole imported case was an Indonesian domestic helper who arrived on Feb 5, and tested positive on her 12th day in hotel quarantine.

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Among the local cases were three restaurant workers, two of whom got themselves tested on their employer’s advice.

One was a cook at a noodle shop in Tai Hang, another a server at a McDonald’s outlet in Central, while the third is a waitress at a Chinese restaurant in Tin Hau.

CHP’s Dr Albert Au said the eateries have been asked to close down for 14 days for disinfection, while the patients’ close contacts will be moved to quarantine centers.

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Another case was a firefighter at Kwai Chung Fire Station, becoming the seventh patient to emerge from the cluster.

The fireman also worked at Lai King Fire Station, forcing about 140 people there into quarantine.

Among the positive cases with unknown source was a female detainee in Ma Tau Kok. The 41-year-old woman who claimed to have entered Hong Kong from Vietnam, was arrested on Feb 5 and initially tested negative for Covid-19.


After she tested positive, all the detainees who shared the same cell with her were moved to the quarantine center. Immigration was also advised to get all the other detainees and staff who interacted with her to get tested.

Au also reported about a dozen preliminary positive cases, five of them untraceable. They comprise a retiree, a private doctor who visited an elderly care home, an office employee who was detected at a community testing center, a taxi driver, and an assistant editor at RTHK.

Au said the high proportion of cases with unknown source could indicate that some of the hidden infections acquired during the Lunar New Year holidays have yet to emerge.

“There is evidence that there are still quite a number of silent transmissions in the community, coupled with a large amount of gatherings among the local population during the Chinese New Year, it is possible that some of the undetected cases may cause ongoing transmission in the community,” Au said.


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