First imported COVID-19 case from HK detected in Singapore sparking concern on upcoming air travel bubble

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2nd May 2021 – (Hong Kong) South African mutant cases have already entered the community in Hong Kong after a Filipino domestic helper in Caribbean Coast was tested positive, Although there are no signs of a major outbreak in Hong Kong, the incubation period may take more than 21 days before more cases are detected.

Singapore announced yesterday (1st) that a 44-year-old man from Hong Kong had been diagnosed with the COVID-19 which represents another “export case” from Hong Kong. In Singapore, the recent epidemic has rebounded slightly, and a cluster outbreak at Tan Tock Seng Hospital has after a Filipino nurse who has been vaccinated with 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine became infected and spread to others.

An expert said that case exported from Hong Kong shows that the local transmission chain is still active. Once there are cases exported in a short period of time, it reflects that the Hong Kong epidemic is very serious. On the contrary, there are no cases of local variant viruses in Singapore and the epidemic is easier to control. The expert also urged the Hong Kong government to contain the variant virus cases as soon as possible.

Once the variant virus breaks out, it will affect the air travel bubble and all other border reopening plans with mainland and Macau.

The Ministry of Transport said that it would closely monitor the development of the epidemic in the two places. The Hong Kong Tourism Commission stated that it will communicate closely with Singapore.

Singapore recorded 34 confirmed cases yesterday, 25 of which were all imported cases. Among them, a 44-year-old Singaporean man (local patient no. 62698) was diagnosed after arriving in Singapore from Hong Kong. He was asymptomatic. The Department of Health replied that it will launch an epidemiological investigation after receiving a notification from the Singapore Health Department. Respiratory specialist Leung Chi-chiu believes that the export of a case from Hong Kong means that the local transmission chain is still active. If another case is exported again in a short period of time, it will reflect the severity of the epidemic. “Our export case is actually like a case of unknown local sources. There were two confirmed cases on 2 flights within a short period of time.

The recent epidemic in Singapore has rebounded slightly, and a hospital cluster has emerged. From 25th April to 1st May, there were 10 cases of unknown sources, that is, 1.43 cases per day, which did not exceed the limit of 5 cases per day to trigger the air travel bubble circuit breaker mechanism. Leung believes that both Hong Kong and Singapore have problems with the epidemic. However, there are still more than 20 days before the first air travel bubble flight.

Compared to Singapore, he is more worried about the Hong Kong epidemic. Although there have been no cases of unknown sources in recent days, this may be due to the long queues at the testing stations and people with symptoms are unwilling to queue up for testing. The amount of testing is oversaturated and test results could not be produced within a short span of time.

Leung described the current epidemic situation in Hong Kong as vulnerable and he is concerned with the cross-family gathering on the coming Mother’s Day. The government relaxed the epidemic prevention measures with vaccine bubble, but most people only received the first injection, so it would not be enough for the body to produce antibodies. When the mutant virus takes root and spreads in Hong Kong, the “air travel bubble” will have to be postponed again.

He also pointed out that the Mainland is more likely to tighten cross-border restrictions. It may take 200-300 days for the entire population to achieve sufficient vaccine coverage before the border with Mainland can be reopened. This is a situation that everyone does not want to see.” He urged the public to avoid cross-family gatherings.

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