Authorities have confirmed that a locally transmitted coronavirus case with unknown origins carried the more infectious Delta virus variant.

The 27-year-old man who tested preliminarily positive to Covid-19 on Wednesday carried the genetic sequence identical to the genomes of three previously imported cases, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) announced on Friday.

Coronavirus covid-19 virus takeaway
Photo: GovHK.

This was Hong Kong’s first locally transmitted case carrying the Delta variant, which is more contagious than other mutant strains. Patients infected with the variant – which first emerged in the UK – also suffered from stronger symptoms.

The CHP said that as the 27-year-old man, who worked at the Hong Kong International Airport as an airline ground crew staff member, also worked briefly at the airport’s temporary testing centre.

Hong Kong reported four imported cases on Friday. The city has recorded 11,910 Covid-19 cases and 211 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic over a year ago.

Stricter quarantine measures

People arriving in the city from the UK, regardless of their vaccination status will now have to undergo a 21-day quarantine from Monday due to the country suffering widespread Covid-19 infections with the Delta mutant strain.

hong kong international airport quarantine order coronavirus
File photo: Rachel Wong/HKFP.

They will have to take four tests during the quarantine period and undergo a seven-day self-monitoring period after the hotel quarantine period. Travellers from the UK will also have to take a compulsory test at one of the city’s community testing centre on the 26th day of arrival.

The government also announced an updated list of designated quarantine hotels on Friday, providing 10,700 rooms following reports that there was a shortage.

The administration had negotiated with hotels to open their previously reserved rooms for bookings to increase the supply of rooms, a government spokesperson said in a statement published on Friday.

“The government also secured one additional hotel as a temporary designated quarantine hotel,” the statement read. “We trust that these measures will better meet the demands of travellers to Hong Kong. The Government will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

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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.