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Airport staff may have been infected by transit passengers, says CHP

17 August 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao  

The local patient works at Cathay's lounge, where she might have been infected

A local woman confirmed as one of three new coronavirus cases today, Aug. 17, may have been infected by transit passengers at Hong Kong International Airport where she works at a customer lounge, according to health officials.

The 47-year-old woman who works as a waitress at Cathay Pacific’s VIP lounge, The Wing, is the first local case to be reported in Hong Kong in nearly two weeks.


She is unvaccinated and was found to carry the L452R variant of the coronavirus.

The two other patients are a fully vaccinated 24-year-old woman who flew in from the United Kingdom and a 17-year-old male passenger from Oman.

Both are asymptomatic and tested positive on arrival at HK airport. The two also carried the L452R mutant strain.

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Dr Chuang Shuk-wan of the Centre for Health Protection said the customer lounge where the local woman works serves both transit and outbound travelers.

She said it was not likely the patient was infected by departing passengers as they would have been tested before boarding their flights, and the chance of them being infected locally was small.

Chuang says transit passengers are the likeliest source of the woman's infection

“So for transit travelers, because they can come from other places and the epidemic situation all over the world is very severe…so I think the risk for transit travelers to pass the illness to her is the highest,” said Chuang.


The patient who lives in Mei Yat House in Yat Tung II Estate, Tung Chung, last went to work on Aug 14.

Chuang said the patient was regularly tested as she had not been vaccinated, with the last two being on Sept 20 and Aug 9.


On Aug 15 the woman went to see a private doctor after she developed symptoms including fever and cough. She tried to get vaccinated then, but the doctor advised her to go for an x-ray of her lungs.

The woman went to a community testing center for a Covid-19 test and then to the accident and emergency department of North Lantau Hospital for an x-ray and another test.


She was found preliminary positive in both tests last night. Subsequent tests showed she carried the L452R mutant strain.

Chuang said that three people who live with the woman and 12 of her co-workers at the lounge have been identified as her close contacts and sent to a quarantine center.

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So far, no one among them has been found infected.

Her residential block, Mei Yat House, was placed under an overnight lockdown and about 600 residents were tested for Covid-19. However, no new case was found.

Also at the press briefing was Dr Lau Ka-hin a chief manager at the Hospital Authority, who said that 40 confirmed patients are being treated in eight public hospitals.

All are stable, except for a man who has been confined since Jan 2 and remains in serious condition.

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