Authorities ordered a lockdown and mass testing for hundreds of residents at an apartment block after detecting Hong Kong’s first suspected local Covid-19 case involving the more infectious Delta virus variant.

The lockdown was imposed on Wednesday on Wan Hang House in Tai Po after a 27-year-old airport worker tested preliminary positive for the L452R strain – the Delta variant first detected in India which is spreading quickly in much of the world.

Testing booths set up in Tai Po after a man was tested preliminarily positive to a Covid-19 mutant strain. Photo: GovHK.

Around 2,100 people were tested but no cases were found and residents were allowed to leave their homes around 8:00 a.m. on Thursday. If confirmed, the case will end the city’s 15-day run with no local cases of any strain of the virus detected.

The man works at Hong Kong International Airport as an airline ground crew staff member and also works part-time at the Uptown Plaza shopping mall in Tai Po. Officials have listed his workplace as well as other locations he visited under a compulsory testing order.

List of locations related to the preliminary positive case under the compulsory testing order (click to open):

  • Uptown Plaza, 9 Nam Wan Road, Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong
  • Level 5 or 6, Terminal 1, Hong Kong International Airport, 1 Cheong Tat Road, Chek Lap Kok, Lantau Island, New Territories, Hong Kong
  • Level 7, Terminal 1, Hong Kong International Airport, 1 Cheong Tat Road, Chek Lap Kok, Lantau Island, New Territories, Hong Kong
  • Midfield Concourse, Hong Kong International Airport, 1 Cheong Tat Road, Chek Lap Kok, Lantau Island, New Territories, Hong Kong
  • Wan Tau Tong Shopping Centre, 10 Hiu Wan Road, Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong
  • Man Lee, Shop 15, G/F, Tai Po Plaza, 1 On Tai Road, Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong
  • Come Thai House Thai Food Restaurant,1 Wong Nai Uk Village, Tung Chung, Lantau Island, New Territories, Hong Kong
  • Airport Staff Canteen Sky Bird 2, Unit No.4X506 and 5V514A, Terminal 1, Hong Kong International Airport, Chek Lap Kok, Lantau Island, New Territories, Hong Kong

The latest infection was found as social-distancing measures were relaxed in the city on Thursday. Among a series of other measures, restaurants with vaccinated staff are allowed to host more customers, as well as banquets of up to 180 people.

Hong Kong has so far escaped the pandemic relatively lightly, recording 11,899 coronavirus infections and 210 deaths. But there has been a slow response to its free vaccination programme involving the China-made Sinovac and BioNTech from Germany.

The Department of Health has been notified of the death of a 40-year-old man who had received a Sinovac dose. The man had asthma and the department said there was no evidence his death was linked to the vaccine.

Photo: GovHK.

The case will be referred to the Expert Committee on Clinical Events Assessment Following COVID-19 Immunisation for assessment.

Over two million people in the city of 7.5 million have now received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and 1,322,100 of them were fully vaccinated as of Wednesday.

Flights from Indonesia banned

The government on Wednesday announced a ban on flights from Indonesia after a high number of imported infections from there. From Friday onwards, no flights from the country will be allowed to land in the city.

Indonesia will be listed as an “extremely high-risk” place, meaning anyone who stayed there for more than two hours is banned from Hong Kong.

Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.