A 38-year-old woman became the first of the Hongkongers airlifted this week from Wuhan to be diagnosed with coronavirus when she was confirmed as the city’s 108th Covid-19 case on Saturday.
The woman went to the central Chinese city in January to visit relatives and eventually returned on a government-chartered on Thursday, which she boarded without showing symptoms.
She was on the fourth of a series of flights returning 469 Hongkongers over Wednesday and Thursday from the epidemic’s epicentre in Hubei province, where they had been subject to an anti-contagion lockdown.
Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch at the Centre for Health Protection, said: “For the whole journey, all the infection control measures have been in place to prevent any cross infection, so as far as I understand, the risk to other returnees will be very low.”
Secretary for Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said earlier that more than 400 Hongkongers who had returned from Hubei province, where the virus is believed to have originated, including 14 women in various stages of pregnancy, had tested negative for the coronavirus.
This week’s evacuation was prioritised for those Hongkongers most in need of returning home. On landing they were immediately taken to Chun Yeung Estate in Fo Tan for a two-week quarantine. More than 3,000 city residents were still scattered across Hubei province, as of Thursday.
The latest case was confirmed after it was revealed that 17 people under mandatory coronavirus quarantine in Hong Kong tried to flee the city but were intercepted by immigration officers.
Chan said two people had been served with court summons, another seven cases had been handed over to the Department of Justice after investigation, and the rest were being dealt with by police and the Department of Health.
“We have repeatedly appealed for self-discipline, that’s very much needed,” Chan said, when asked if the latest figures meant there was a loophole in the monitoring policy.
She added that different kinds of checks had been put in place, with disciplinary forces patrolling residences, health officials calling people under quarantine, and staff from the Innovation and Technology Bureau performing location checks with their mobile devices.
“The border is our line of defence … immigration officers will intercept anyone under a mandatory quarantine trying to leave,” she said.
Speaking on a radio programme, Chan also called on Hongkongers to avoid any unnecessary travel, given the surge in Covid-19 cases around the world.Three more cases were confirmed in the city on Friday, including a businessman recently back from Europe.
Chan said authorities had been monitoring the global situation, and assessing whether to issue more travel alerts beyond the ones already in place for South Korea, three regions in Italy, and Iran.
Risk factors include the number and trend of cases in the jurisdiction being assessed, the precautionary measures launched there, and the testing ability of its local authorities.
On Friday, the Department of Health announced that from midnight on Saturday all inbound travellers arriving at the airport would have to fill in a health declaration form, extending a requirement that previously applied only to visitors from mainland China.
Source: SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST