The near-empty departures hall at Hong Kong International Airport on Aug 10. (PAUL YEUNG / BLOOMBERG)
HONG KONG – Hong Kong reported Monday five new imported COVID-19 cases, bringing the city's tally to 12,062, as the city's commerce chief said that COVID-19 must be kept at bay before borders are fully reopened.
The newly confirmed patients included a 9-year-old girl who traveled to Hong Kong from Nigeria; a 19-year-old man from the United States; a 22-year-old man from Pakistan, a 37-year-old female from Indonesia and a 38-year-old man from Turkey, according to a statement by the Centre for Health Protection (CHP).
All but the young girl have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Centre for Health Protection
Both the young girl and the man who flew in from Turkey stayed at the Ramada Hong Kong Grand View hotel in North Point, while the man who arrived from the US stayed at Ovolo Southside in Wong Chuk Hang.
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All but the young girl have been fully vaccinated, and the new patients were all asymptomatic.
The man who arrived from Pakistan received two doses of the Comirnaty vaccine in Hong Kong on March 13 and April 5, while the woman who flew in from Indonesia had also been vaccinated with the Comirnaty shot on May 12 and June 2, respectively.
The man from the US, who received the Comirnaty jabs in Hong Kong on May 3 and May 25, tested positive for anti-spike protein antibody on July 5.
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Meanwhile, the man who arrived from Turkey had received two doses of Sinovac's vaccine in Pakistan on June 5 and July 5.
We are playing a safe strategy that we must keep COVID-19 at bay before we talk about a full and entire open border or economy.
Edward Yau Tang-wah, Secretary for commerce and economic development, Hong Kong
According to the CHP, 44 cases had been reported in Hong Kong from Aug 9 to Aug 22, including one local case with unknown sources.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah defended Monday the government’s decision to reimpose some of the world’s strictest quarantine policies.
The city last week decided not to pursue a plan to cut quarantine to just seven days for some vaccinated travelers, and put more countries on the high-risk level that require three weeks of hotel quarantine.
“We are playing a safe strategy that we must keep COVID-19 at bay before we talk about a full and entire open border or economy,” Yau said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. Reopening the border with the Chinese mainland “remains one of the major priority areas,” he said.
The system remains flexible, with the government constantly adjusting the list of countries with different risk levels, he said.
While fully vaccinated travelers from high-risk countries need to undergo a 21-day hotel quarantine, the period is cut to 14 days for those from medium-risk countries. Those traveling from New Zealand are required to quarantine for just seven days.
With Bloomberg inputs