Hong Kong’s 33-day period with no locally transmitted coronavirus cases has ended after a 50-year-old baggage handler was diagnosed on Sunday with a mutant virus strain, prompting a mass testing demand for thousands of other airport workers.

The man lives in Wong Tai Sin and last went to work on Saturday. Officials have not so far been able to trace the source of his infection.

The government imposed a Covid-19 lockdown on Wong Tai Sin on July 10, 2021. Photo: GovHK.

The government imposed a Covid-19 lockdown on the man’s residence, 1-3 Kam Fung Street in Wong Tai Sin. A total of 28 people were tested but no cases were found and the lockdown was lifted on Sunday morning.

Around 90 close contacts of the 50-year-old were ordered into quarantine.

Following the latest case and an earlier one at the airport, authorities have ordered all those who worked there between June 20 and July 10 to get tested, in order to stop a possible invisible transmission link.

Last month, a 27-year-old man who worked at the airport became the city’s first locally transmitted case of the Delta variant. Officials, however, later reclassified his case as genetically related to an imported case, meaning it was not subsequently considered locally transmitted.

File photo: GovHK.

Hong Kong has recorded 11,952 infections and 212 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic over a year ago.

Mainland travels

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she has asked the Beijing government for guidance on when it may allow a broader reopening of the border with Hong Kong, and the number of people who may be allowed to cross.

Lam told Metro Radio on Monday she had submitted a report to the central government on the issue. She said Hong Kong’s handling of the pandemic had proved that its capability has improved.

The chief executive urged more Hongkongers to get vaccinated as this would give her more bargaining power when negotiating a reopening.

As of July 11, over 2,591,700 people in the city of 7.5 million had received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine and over 1,804,800 of them had been fully vaccinated.

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.