Press Releases in Hong Kong

HK sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, suspends Korean Air flights

HONG KONG – Hong Kong reported nine new COVID-19 infections on Monday, bringing the tally to 12,598, as the government ordered a two-week suspension of Korean Air Lines flights after some of its passengers tested positive for coronavirus upon arrival in Hong Kong.

The announcement came after some of the airlines' passengers traveling from South Korea tested positive for coronavirus upon landing in the financial hub last week. The suspension will last until Jan 8.

The Centre for Health Protection said that 14 previously confirmed patients were found to carry the Omicron variant, taking the total number of Omicron cases in the financial hub to 58

Korean Air, which runs flights between South Korea and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region three times a week, said it respects the entry regulations of the SAR government, and all passengers had tested negative when it had checked.

ALSO READ: HK logs 7 more Omicron cases, expands vaccination program

All new COVID-19 cases reported in Hong Kong on Monday were imported and involved mutant strains N501Y and T478K, said the Centre for Health Protection in a statement. 

The patients comprised five men and four women aged 19 to 59. 

Among them was a 42-year-old local aircrew member who lives at Tower 7, Phase 1, Park Avenue in Mong Kok. She departed Hong Kong on Dec 22 for Australia after testing negative to COVID-19 a day before. 

She is a co-worker of an imported case confirmed earlier and both arrived in Hong Kong on Dec 24 from Australia by flight CX138, the CHP said. Her specimen collected upon arrival at the Hong Kong airport tested negative but her sample tested positive on Dec 25 during quarantine at the Penny's Bay Quarantine Centre. 

“She is asymptomatic and her specimen carried the N501Y and T478K mutant strains,” the CHP said. “As a prudent measure, the places where the case resided or visited in Hong Kong during the incubation periods have been included in a compulsory testing notice,” it added.

It means anyone who was present at the relevant venues at specified periods needs to undergo compulsory testing on the specified date.

ALSO READ: HK sees 25 new virus cases, bans Cathay flights from London

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee (3rd right), Hospital Authority chairman Henry Fan Hung-ling (3rd left) and HA Chief Executive Tony Ko Pat-sing (2nd left) visit the laboratory of the North Lantau Hospital Hong Kong Infection Control Centre, Dec 27, 2021. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

A total of 101 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the past 14 days. One of them was an import-related case while the rest were imported cases.

The HKSAR government announced that Albania, Jamaica and North Macedonia will be listed as Group A specified (high-risk) places from Wednesday, meaning non-Hong Kong residents who have stayed in such regions within 21 days will not be allowed to enter the city

The center also said that 14 previously confirmed patients were found to carry the Omicron variant, taking the total number of Omicron cases in the financial hub to 58.

A total of 152 confirmed patients are currently hospitalised in the North Lantau Hospital Hong Kong Infection Control Centre and the Hospital Authority Infectious Disease Centre. Among those patients, one is in serious condition while the remainder are in stable condition, according to the Hospital Authority. 

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said after a visit to the two facilites on Monday that the government has ready itself in case there is a fifth coroanvirus outbreak in Hong Kong.

She said she had chaired a meeting before Christmas to discuss and prepare for the government's response plan in case there is an Omicron outbreak in Hong Kong, in particular Hong Kong's testing capacity as well as quarantine and isolation facilities.

Tighter inbound travel rules

The Hong Kong government on Sunday further tightened inbound travel restrictions in light of the growing threats of Omicron. In a statement issued, the government announced that Albania, Jamaica and North Macedonia will be listed as Group A specified (high-risk) places from Wednesday.

“Non-Hong Kong residents who have stayed in such regions within 21 days will not be allowed to enter the city,” the government said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong residents who have stayed in these places can only board a flight for Hong Kong if they have been fully vaccinated and hold a recognized COVID-19 jab record.

Upon arrival, they must undergo 21 days of compulsory quarantine in a designated quarantine hotel, during which six virus tests have to be conducted. On the 26th day of arrival in Hong Kong, they must also undergo another compulsory test in a community testing center.