An aircraft operated by Cathay Pacific Airways approaches Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, Aug 10, 2021. (PHOTO/BLOOMBERG)
HONG KONG – Hong Kong reported 25 new imported COVID-19 cases, and confirmed three more Omicron infections, on Saturday as it suspended Cathay Pacific flights from London.
In a statement issued on Saturday afternoon, the Centre for Health Protection said Korean Air flights from Seoul and Emirates flights from Bangkok and Dubai will also be suspended for two weeks.
The Centre for Health Protection said Korean Air flights from Seoul and Emirates flights from Bangkok and Dubai will also be suspended for two weeks
The CHP said the new cases involved nine patients from the United Kingdom, five returning from Kazakhstan, two each from Pakistan and India, and one each from Australia, the United States, South Africa, Spain, Canada, France, and Russia.
“Fourteen of the cases involved mutant strains; mutation test results of nine cases are pending; while the viral load of the remaining two cases is insufficient for mutation tests,” the statement reads.
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The CHP said four of the new patients had stayed in the city during the incubation period. One is a 28-year-old male Hong Kong karate athlete.
He lives at a village house in Ho Pui Tsuen, Pat Heung, Yuen Long and left Hong Kong on Dec 9 for Kazakhstan via Qatar, after he tested negative. He returned to the city on Dec 23 from Korea and tested positive at the airport.
“He developed symptoms on December 23. His Ct value is less than 30 and his specimen carried the N501Y and T478K mutant strain,” the CHP said.
The second is also a Hong Kong karate athlete who stayed in the Hong Kong Sports Institute, 25 Yuen Wo Road, Sha Tin, during the incubation period.
The 33-year-old male patient left Hong Kong on Dec 12 for Kazakhstan via Qatar, after he tested negative on the same day. He returned on Dec 23 and tested positive at the airport.
The patient developed symptoms on Dec 23 and his specimen carried the N501Y and T478K mutant strain, the CHP said.
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The third patient who was in Hong Kong during the incubation period is a 79-year-old woman who lived at Tower 2, Wing Fai Centre, Fanling.
She left Hong Kong on Dec 9 for the UK after testing negative but was confirmed to have the virus when she returned on Dec 24.
The fourth patient is a 28-year-old female local aircrew member who lives at a village house in Tai Mei Tuk Village, Tai Po.
She left Hong Kong on Dec 22 for Australia after she tested negative for COVID-19. She came back to Hong Kong on Dec 24 and also tested positive at the airport. She showed no symptoms but her specimen had the N501Y and T478K mutant strain.
“As a prudent measure, the places where the above four cases resided or visited in Hong Kong during the incubation periods have been included in a compulsory testing notice,” the CHP said.
It also said that tests conducted by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch showed that three previously confirmed patients had the Omicron strain.
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They included a 64-year-old male cleaner at the airport, a 27-year-old female who tested positive during quarantine, and a 36-year-old man who was confirmed infected at the airport.
Genetic sequencing showed that the genomes involved in the cleaner’s case were "highly similar" to that of a male Omicron patient who arrived in Hong Kong on Dec 19 from Ghana and Qatar, the CHP said.
It said the cleaner apparently got infected after coming into contact with the male traveler while working at the toilet. The CHP has classified his infection as “an import-related case.” The city now has 44 imported Omicron cases.
Meanwhile, the CHP said Cathay flights from London will be suspended from Dec 26 to Jan 8 after one such flight landed on Dec 24 with seven passengers infected with the virus.
Korean Air flights from Seoul will also be suspended from Dec 26 to Jan 8 after five passengers on a Dec 23 flight tested positive after landing in Hong Kong.
The CHP also said that Emirates flights from Bangkok and Dubai are banned from Dec 25 to Jan 7 after a flight on Dec 23 had two confirmed cases and a passenger who did not comply with travel requirements.
READ MORE: HK detects 5 Omicron cases, bans Cathay flights from NY