Coronavirus testing frequency to jump for HK’s airport, quarantine hotel workers-with daily screenings for the unvaccinated

19-Oct-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 5:02 AM Print This Post

Employees of Hong Kong International Airport, workers at quarantine hotels and those who drive travellers between the two will all soon be tested for Covid-19 more regularly, the Post has learned, with daily screenings for the unvaccinated.

The new testing regime, set to take effect within the next week, is the latest attempt to tighten border-control measures as the city attempts to satisfy Beijing’s concerns over reopening the border between Hong Kong and mainland China.

Testing frequency falls within the three areas of improvement to the city’s anti-pandemic strategy identified by John Lee Ka-chiu, the city’s No 2 official, after a meeting in late September between mainland and Hong Kong representatives.

Those areas were screening requirements for inbound travellers, the city’s quarantine system and the approach to lowering the chances of infection among high-risk groups. Lee said at the time that improvements on those fronts would pave the way for further discussions on border reopening.

The fresh measures come hard on the heels of an airport cargo handler recently emerging as the first local, untraceable coronavirus case in nearly two months.

The discovery of that infection prompted mainland authorities to ban the city’s sole delegate to China’s top legislative body from attending a meeting in Beijing this week.

On Monday, Hong Kong confirmed five new Covid-19 cases, all imported and arriving from Britain, the Philippines, Ghana and Nigeria.

Those infections brought the city’s confirmed tally to 12,299, with 213 related deaths. Fewer than five people also tested preliminary-positive.

Separately, Qatar Airways was banned from operating its Doha-to-Hong Kong route from Monday until October 31, after two separate flights last week were each found to be carrying two passengers who tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival.

A source said the new plan to increase testing frequency was intended to target those at higher risk of exposure to the virus due to their direct contact with incoming travellers and goods.

Frontline airport workers, such as those handling cargo, dealing face-to-face with passengers or cleaning airline cabins, will be required to be tested every three days under the proposed measure.

Current rules require those workers to be fully vaccinated and undergo testing every seven days. Staff unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons are not allowed to work in those roles.

The frequency of testing for fully vaccinated staff at the city’s 36 designated quarantine hotels and the drivers who transport travellers to the facilities, meanwhile, will go from every seven days to every three.

Workers in those roles who have yet to be vaccinated currently subject to screening every three days will now be tested every day.


Category: Hong Kong

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