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Tighter measures being assessed after Covid case

2021-04-18 HKT 11:25
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  • Tighter measures being assessed after Covid case
Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Sunday the government is considering whether it needs to further tighten hotel quarantine measures and flight restrictions, after a man who returned from Dubai and completed 21 days of quarantine tested positive for Covid-19.

Chan said officials need to assess the situation and discuss with experts before deciding whether stricter restrictions are warranted.

The 29-year-old patient returned from Dubai last month, and health authorities said he tested negative for the coronavirus when he underwent the mandatory quarantine at a hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. After completing his quarantine, he stayed at a flat in the Parkes Building in Jordan.

More than 80 residents of the building were quarantined after the case was uncovered, with authorities saying the highly transmissible N501Y mutant strain had been recorded there.

Speaking on a radio show, Chan said the man might have caught the virus in Dubai, but had a long incubation period. Or, she said, he might have been infected at the airport, the hotel, or in the community.

When asked whether quarantine should be lengthened to 28 days, she told a radio show that only four percent of cases were detected on the 19th day of quarantine. She also said authorities have so far found nothing unusual with the ventilation and pipes at the hotel in question.

Chan said it was likely more flights from high risk countries would be banned.

“Starting from April 14, we have already strengthened our suspension of flights mechanism,” she said. “If we look at the past data, from March to now, we have already suspended seven flights for 14 days from different countries.”

“And therefore, with this new mechanism, we envisage that we will be suspending more flights.”

The health chief also noted that Covid-19 vaccines offered the best protection around 14 days after the second dose.

She was commenting after authorities confirmed that one of the local cases confirmed on Saturday had tested positive seven days after receiving his second dose of the SInovac vaccine.

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said the 65-year-old man received his second shot on April seventh. Epidemiological investigations are on-going.

The CHP also said it takes time for antibodies to develop, and people may not be effectively protected until two weeks after their second dose.

They also reminded the public that social distancing, good hand hygiene and mask wearing are all still required to prevent the spread of the virus.