Coronavirus: Hong Kong domestic helper tests positive 5 days after completing quarantine

·3-min read

A foreign domestic helper who tested positive for the coronavirus five days after completing quarantine in Hong Kong has been confirmed as infected, triggering compulsory screening orders on places she visited.

The 30-year-old woman, who arrived in the city from Indonesia via Cathay Pacific flight 798 on September 17, tested negative for Covid-19 at the airport and on six further occasions during her mandatory quarantine at the Silka Tsuen Wan hotel. But she returned a positive reading when she was back in the community, on the 26th day after arriving in the city.

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The infection, classed as imported, was the only one confirmed in Hong Kong on Thursday. Fewer than 10 preliminary-positive cases were reported. The city’s official tally now stands at 12,276 cases, with 213 related deaths.

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After completing her 21-day quarantine on October 7, the helper went to her employer’s home at Tower 10, Phase 3 of The Graces in Tai Po’s Providence Bay, developing symptoms a day later.

She tested positive on October 12 with a low viral load. Her test results after hospital admission were indeterminate but she was later confirmed as infected.

She had received both shots of the Sinovac vaccine in Indonesia. The first dose was administered on July 9 and the second on August 11. Medical experts have said that while vaccines do not offer total protection against infection, they vastly reduce the severity of the illness and likelihood of death.

As a precautionary measure, health authorities imposed compulsory testing notices on the places in Hong Kong where she was staying and had visited during her incubation period.

It applies to people who were in the Providence Bay tower for more than two hours from September 17 to October 13, the Dr Liu Kai Ling Clinic at Tai Wo Estate in Tai Po between 3.30pm and 6.30pm on October 8, and Market Place supermarket on 21 Fo Chun Road in Tai Po from 9am to 12pm on October 11. They must all undergo Covid-19 screening on or before Saturday.

Government pandemic adviser Professor David Hui Shu-cheong of Chinese University said health authorities were still carrying out tests to determine whether the helper was a re-positive case or newly infected.

“We shouldn’t be too worried about the latest infection because her viral load was low and most people comply with universal masking and other public health measures,” he said.

More than 4.5 million people in Hong Kong, or 67.5 per cent of the eligible population, have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

On Monday, the World Health Organization recommended giving immunocompromised people an additional dose of vaccine. The global health body issued the same advice to recipients of the Chinese-made Sinovac or Sinopharm vaccines who were aged 60 or older.

The Centre for Health Protection’s joint scientific committee will discuss the issues surrounding booster shots next Thursday.

University of Hong Kong microbiologist Dr Ho Pak-leung said four groups of people – high-risk workers, immunocompromised people, residents aged 60 or above and those who planned to travel – should receive a booster shot six months after receiving their second dose of the Sinovac vaccine.

“If you travel abroad but your immune response [to the coronavirus] is not sufficient, you can get infected and bring the disease back to Hong Kong,” he told a radio programme.

“The government should start administering third doses of Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible.”

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