20th July 2021 – (Hong Kong) The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today said that it is following up an imported case of COVID-19 which carries the L452R mutant strain involving a 39-year-old male patient arriving from France who lives at Leon Court, 12-14 Wong Nai Chung Gap Road in Wan Chai (Case No. 11,963).
Further investigations revealed that he travelled to France on 2nd July and returned to Hong Kong via Doha, Qatar, on 18th July. His specimen collected upon arrival in the Temporary Specimen Collection Centre at Hong Kong International Airport tested positive for COVID-19. The test result by the DH’s Public Health Laboratory Services Branch revealed that the patient carries the L452R mutant strain but does not carry N501Y or E484K mutant genes. The patient has been asymptomatic.
As the patient has spent the majority of his incubation period in France, the patient is likely to have been infected recently in France. The CHP has classified the case as an imported case.
During the past 21 days, the patient had stayed in Hong Kong from 27th June to 2nd July. As a prudent measure, the Government will make a restriction-testing declaration tonight for the building where the patient resided in Hong Kong (Leon Court in Wan Chai). Residents of the building will also be subject to compulsory testing on Days 3, 7, 12 and 19 counting from the day on which the case is announced.
Moreover, the places he had visited during the incubation period will be included in a compulsory testing notice. Specified persons who had been present at the relevant venues at specified periods need to undergo compulsory testing on or before the specified date.
The CHP’s investigation reveals that the patient received two doses of COVID-19 vaccination on 6th and 27th April in Hong Kong (Comirnaty vaccine). His blood specimen tested positive for anti-spike protein antibody on 23rd June.
An epidemiological investigation and contact tracing of the case will continue.
Meanwhile, tThe Government today exercised the power under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Compulsory Testing for Certain Persons) Regulation (Cap. 599J) to make a “restriction-testing declaration” (declaration) effective from 7.30pm, under which people (hereafter referred to as “persons subject to compulsory testing”) within the specified “restricted area” in Leon Court. Residents are required to stay in their premises and undergo compulsory testing. Persons subject to compulsory testing are required to stay in their premises until all such persons identified in the “restricted area” have undergone testing and the test results are mostly ascertained. The Government aims at finishing this exercise at about 7am tomorrow.
A Government spokesman said, “Under Cap. 599J, the Government can, according to the needs of infection control, make a ‘restriction-testing declaration’. As an imported case arriving from France was reported today and the preliminary test result involved a mutant strain, and the patient has lived in Wan Chai within the past 21 days, the risk of infection in the relevant area is assessed to be likely higher, so the Government decided to make a ‘restriction-testing declaration’ for the relevant area after the test result was found positive.”
The Government will arrange dedicated staff to collect samples through combined nasal and throat swabs at the “restricted area” and request persons subject to compulsory testing to undergo nucleic acid testing before 11pm tonight. Persons subject to compulsory testing must stay at their place of residence until all test results are ascertained to avoid cross-infection risk.
“We understand that this exercise will cause inconvenience to the public. The Government has made arrangements to carry out testing for all persons present in the ‘restricted area’ as soon as possible. The aim is to strive to complete testing of all identified persons subject to compulsory testing and confirm the results, and finish the exercise at around 7am tomorrow. The Government will make a public announcement when the declaration expires officially. In the cases in which employees are unable to go to work because of the declaration, the Government hopes their employers can exercise discretion and not deduct the salaries or benefits of the employees.”
If staying in the “restricted area” will cause unreasonable hardship to individuals who are not residents in the area when the declaration takes effect, government officers may exercise discretion and allow that person to leave the area after considering the individual circumstances. That person must have followed the instructions to undergo testing and leave his/her personal information for contact purposes.
Persons in the “restricted area” who have undergone testing from 18th to 20th July, 2021, and are able to provide the SMS notification through a mobile phone or related certification containing the test results, are not required to take the test again. However, they are required to stay in their premises until all such persons identified in the area have undergone testing and the test results are mostly ascertained. Also, according to the compulsory testing notice issued today, any person who had been present at the above building for more than two hours from 27th June to 20th July, 2021, even if they were not present in the “restricted area” at the time when the declaration took effect, must undergo compulsory testing on or before 22nd July. As a mutant strain is involved, for prudence’s sake, vaccinated persons are also required for testing.
In addition, in accordance with the latest arrangement, persons residing in the same building as a confirmed local case with mutant strain are subject to compulsory testing on Days 3, 7, 12 and 19 counting from the day on which the confirmed case is announced.