All airport staff ordered tested after local Covid-19 case found

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Hong Kong International Airport (SCREENSHOT: Google/maps.google.com/Maxar Technologies/CNES/Airbus)

Health officials announced Sunday that all workers at the airport should get tested for Covid-19 after a 50-year-old porter who worked there was confirmed infected with a coronavirus variant.

Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan, communicable disease branch head at the Centre for Health Protection, said the man had tested positive for the L452R strain. The strain is associated with several variants, including the highly contagious Delta variant.

His infection ended Hong Kong’s 33-day streak of logging no local cases.

The airport worker’s infection was netted through a compulsory testing order issued after an airline ground staff was found positive for Covid-19 on June 24.

“These two cases… have no direct link, so we are concerned whether there’s any silent transmission at the airport. Actually, for all workers at the airport, they are considered as high risk because they may get into contact directly or indirectly with imported cases,” Chuang said.

Chuang said tens of thousands of staffers who have worked in the airport between June 20 to July 10 must undergo compulsory testing. She added that genetic sequencing will be done to check if the two airport-related local cases are linked.

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Over 90 close contacts are either already or being sent to quarantine centres. Among his close contacts are neighboring tenants in the subdivided flats he resided in on Kam Fung Street in Wong Tai Sin, his relatives, and users in the airport testing room.

The building he lived in was under a testing lockdown on Saturday night, but no infection was found among the 28 residents who had undergone Covid-19 testing.

The porter, who last went to work on July 10, received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by BioNTech on July 1. He previously tested negative.

He had been to Ocean Park on June 26 with a friend and ate at several restaurants in Wong Tai Sin. Compulsory testing notices were issued to places he had visited since his infection involves a mutant strain.

The city has so far confirmed 11,951 Covid-19 infections, with 212 related deaths.

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