Hong Kong will ban all passenger flights from the United Kingdom from Thursday (Jul 1) to curb the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, the government said on Monday. Britain will be specified as extremely high-risk, and people who have stayed in the country for more than two hours will be unable to board passenger flights bound for Hong Kong, it said.
It is the second time Hong Kong has barred arrivals from Britain after a ban that was in force from December 2020 until May.
The government said the ban was due to “the recent rebound of the epidemic situation in the UK and the widespread Delta variant virus strain there, coupled with a number of cases with L452R mutant virus strains detected by tests from people arriving from the UK”.
A genetic study of viral samples from infected passengers on a flight into Hong Kong later found to have a record number of Covid-19 cases will be undertaken to determine whether in-flight transmission or quarantine facilities were to blame, with implications on tighter protocols required to contain such spikes.
The University of Hong Kong (HKU) will be conducting genome sequencing on the 51 passengers of Vistara flight UK6395 from New Delhi on April 4, while a review of official data showed 22 of them, or around 43 per cent, were only confirmed to have had the infection during their hotel quarantine on the 15th day of their arrival
Hong Kong’s first community infection of a mutant Covid-19 strain involved the South African variant, officials revealed on Tuesday, with transmission likely to have taken place at a quarantine hotel via door hooks used by staff to deliver meal boxes to guests.
Experts found no problems with the hotel’s ventilation and drainage systems, the focus turned to S-shaped door hooks used by employees to hang meal boxes for self-isolating guests, who would later put them back there. ‘The virus could have been exchanged through contact with the hooks, which were “hard to clean”.’
Health authorities on Friday partially evacuated a public housing block in Tuen Mun, Hong Kong, after four residents tested positive for Covid-19, and an expert determined that the virus likely was transmitted via the building’s pipes. Residents living in units 09 on every floor of Oi Fai House in Yau Oi Estate, Hong Kong, were sent into quarantine.
Three of coronavirus cases are residents of that unit on the 21st to the 23rd floors. The fourth infection lives in a different flat on the 22nd floor, and experts believe she had picked up the bug in a different way.
After inspecting the building, University of Hong Kong microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung noted that one of the flats had two exhaust fans in the kitchen, and the flat was apparently modified so the room was directly linked to the toilet.
Yuen, one of the government’s advisors on the pandemic, said the exhaust fans may have sucked the virus in after creating negative pressure in the room.
The expert said while it appears that the virus travelled downwards, there’s no definitive proof of this, so authorities decided to evacuate all residents who live in the same units on every floor as a precaution.
Hong Kong and Macau suspended the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday (Mar 24 2021) after being informed of a packaging problem affecting one batch of vials, while stressing they did not believe there was a safety risk.
“For the sake of precaution, the current vaccination must be suspended during the period of investigation,” Hong Kong’s government said in a statement.
Both Chinese cities said their decision came after they were contacted about the issue by Fosun, the Chinese pharmaceutical company that is distributing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in China.
“We were never told when we put our children back into school that they will go to a quarantine centre if one of their classmates tested positive,” says one mother
The parents of children from an affluent international preschool criticised what they characterised as the inconsiderate decision by authorities to send their children to quarantine camps, as Hong Kong recorded 10 new coronavirus cases
Two more people have died after getting the Sinovac Covid-19 jab, Hong Kong health authorities revealed on Saturday night
In total, six people have died locally after receiving the [Chinese] mainland-made Sinovac shots, although experts concluded there were no direct links to the jabs in the first two deaths and they were still looking into the other cases.
One of the latest deaths was of an 80-year-old man who had diabetes and hypertension and had suffered a stroke. He died of ischemic bowel disease, the authorities said. The other case involved a 67-year-old man, who also had diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Another 63-year-old man with heart and liver problems was in a critical condition on Saturday. He suffered a stroke.
Hong Kong reported its first case of a patient experiencing facial paralysis after being vaccinated for Covid-19 last week. A 69-year-old man with a history of hypertension received the Sinovac vaccine on March 6, and began developing Bell’s palsy symptoms around two hours after getting jabbed.
The 69-year-old man who suffered from facial paralysis first reported feeling discomfort in his left eye and could not close it completely shortly after receiving the vaccine. By the next morning he was drooling from the left side of his mouth, and visited a hospital. He was later discharged on March 8.
Four deaths have so far been recorded among people who had recently received the Sinovac jab, the first two of which – involving a 63-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman, both with chronic diseases – were included in Friday’s report.