Five out of 65 Hong Kong residents who returned on a government-organised charter flight from Peru on Sunday have tested positive for the coronavirus, health authorities have confirmed.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease breach of the Centre for Health Protection, said on Monday that three of them were part of the same Morning Star Travel Service tour group of 20 people. The other two cases were a couple – a male and female – who had reportedly travelled independently.

Lima Peru
Lima, Peru. Photo: Wikicommons.

Peru declared a state of emergency on March 15 and imposed strict travel restrictions on all international flights.

Hong Kong organised a flight to carry dozens of stranded residents home following 98 requests for assistance. The arrangement came after the death of a 64-year-old Hong Kong man confirmed to have Covid-19 at his accommodation in the southeastern city of Cusco on March 27.

Passengers travelled on the charter flight from the Peruvian capital of Lima to London before transferring to a homebound commercial flight.

The cost of the special journey totalled around HK$30,000, according to a government spokesperson. Those travelling from Cusco to Lima beforehand reportedly paid around HK$5,600.

Four Malaysians also boarded the flight from Cusco to Lima, while six Malaysians and three British citizens took remaining seats on the flight to London, following requests from other governments.

Cusco Lima
Flight from Cusco to Lima, Peru.

At least four Hongkongers were required to stay in Peru due to quarantine and Covid-19 testing requirements, the spokesperson said. Thirteen left via other travel arrangements, while some chose to remain.

Hong Kong reported 24 additional local cases of Covid-19 on Monday afternoon, driving the city’s total to 914. Meanwhile, Peru has reported 2,281 cases. First detected in China’s Hubei province, the virus has infected more than 1,277,000 people across 183 countries and regions, leading to more than 69,550 deaths.

Some members of the tour group in Peru left Hong Kong on February 27, Chuang said.

Returning residents were subject to Covid-19 testing at the Centre for Health Protection’s testing centre at AsiaWorld-Expo in Chek Lap Kok. Those who test negative are able to return home or to a designated location to complete a 14-day mandatory self-quarantine.

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.