Hong Kong Airport Worker Is First Local Covid Case in 2 Months
(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong said its coronavirus policy will become increasingly tethered to China’s, as the financial hub recorded its first local Covid-19 case since mid-August, raising the specter of an outbreak in one of the world’s densest cities.
An airport worker has been infected, officials said at a Friday briefing. His close contacts and some 400 people in his residential neighborhood of Sha Tin have been tested and are negative. The man was fully vaccinated with Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s shot.
The worker was likely infected with the delta strain, said Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Communicable Disease Branch of the Center for Health Protection of the city’s health department. Hong Kong has managed to avoid local transmission of delta -- one of the only places in the world still free of highly infectious mutation.
“There’s still risk of spread into the community,” Chuang said. “Hopefully we can control it.”
The new case came after Food and Health Secretary Sophia Chan said Hong Kong would continue with a Covid Zero stance that has seen it enforce some of the world’s strictest quarantine measures.
Reopening the border with China remains a top priority, Chan reiterated, adding that Hong Kong wants to avoid bringing additional virus-related risks to the mainland.
“Although we have different systems, our common expectation is that -- under the collective prevention and control scheme -- we must become more and more aligned,” she said of China.
Communication with the mainland regarding the pandemic has been constructive, and Hong Kong will fully cooperate on requirements for reopening the border, Chan added.
Mainland China, along with special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau, is the last place in the world holding fast to the goal of eliminating the virus, even as the delta variant and proliferation of vaccines have led Covid Zero stalwarts New Zealand, Australia and Singapore to shift toward treating the pathogen as endemic.
Hong Kong has fully vaccinated 57% of its population, far behind the 81% recorded by Singapore, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.
Life in the city is largely normal, with social and business activity bustling amid the lack of Covid risk. But its tough quarantine measures, which mandate isolation periods of as long as 21 days for travelers, are fueling concerns that Hong Kong could be left behind as other global finance centers reopen.
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