Press Releases in Hong Kong

HK logs 3 cases, replaces deep-throat saliva tests for arrivals

This undated photo shows medical staffers walking past a building at Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

HONG KONG – Hong Kong reported three new imported COVID-19 cases that involved mutant strains on Monday as the government announced that deep-throat saliva specimens will be replaced by combined nasal and throat swabs as the recognized compulsory testing method for arrivals in the city starting Tuesday.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, the Centre for Health Protection said the new patients included a 43-year-old female domestic worker from Indonesia, a 23-year-old man from the United States, and a 24-year-old foreign domestic worker from the Philippines. The city's tally stood at 12,404.

The government on Sunday night cordoned off Jovial Court, Peninsula Village, Discovery Bay, Lantau Island, where a 23-year-old man from the United States resided, but no one among the 270 residents tested were infected

All three patients were fully vaccinated and, expect for the man from the US, had no COVID-19 symptoms, the CHP said.

The helper from Indonesia and the man who returned from the US tested positive during the "test-and-hold" arrangement at Hong Kong International Airport while the infection of the helper from the Philippines was confirmed during her stay at Penny's Bay Quarantine Centre.

The male patient departed Hong Kong on Nov 14 for the US after he tested negative for COVID-19 on Nov 13, the CHP said.

He returned to Hong Kong on Nov 20 from the US and his specimen collected upon arrival at the airport tested positive for the L452R mutant strain, it added.

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The government on Sunday night cordoned off Jovial Court, Peninsula Village, Discovery Bay, Lantau Island, where the male patient resided, but no one among the 270 residents tested were infected.

The places he had visited in Hong Kong during the incubation period will also be included in a compulsory testing notice, the CHP said.

It added that 33 cases were reported in Hong Kong from Nov 8 to 21 and all of them are imported.

In a statement isused on Monday night, the government said that it will no longer accept results from nucleic acid tests using deep-throat saliva specimens for persons arriving in Hong Kong.

The government said the change will affect inbound travelers who have stayed in the mainland or Macao and did not arrive under the "Return2hk"or "Come2hk" Schemes and unvaccinated children aged under 12 who have only stayed in medium-risk places.

Under the new arrangement, these arrivals must go to a Community Testing Centre to undergo testing with combined nasal and throat swabs.

In a separate statement, the government said persons aged 12 to 17 will be prioritized for reservations for Sinovac shots starting Dec 2.

The government said they make their reservations through the designated website of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme.

The teenagers can get also same-day tickets and get vaccinated at Community Vaccination Centres or get their shots at the Ma On Shan Family Medicine Centre and the Tin Shui Wai Community Health Centre.

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Students can also get the jabs at five Student Health Service Centres (SHSCs) of the Department of Health– Chai Wan SHSC, Lam Tin SHSC, Sha Tin SHSC, Tuen Mun SHSC and Western SHSC–or make appointments through private doctors or clinics enrolled in the vaccination program.

The government said it attaches great importance to the vaccination of teenagers and students. The government will provide them with special channels to get vaccinated, including providing special appointments for schools at CVCs and transport from and to schools.

Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase & Co is offering to pay some of its Hong Kong-based staff up to $5,000 each for their hotel quarantine stay for personal trips, a memo from the Wall Street bank to employees seen by Reuters showed.

With inputs from Reuters