30th April 2021 – (Hong Kong) According to the announcement made by the Centre for Health Protection this afternoon, in view of Case No.11730, a Filipino domestic helper which was infected with mutant virus earlier and the latest Case No.11733 in Tung Chung, as a precautionary measure, all 370,000 foreign domestic helpers must undergo compulsory testing by 9th May. Exemption will be applied to those who have undergone compulsory testing today. Foreign domestic helpers who have completed 2 doses of vaccinations and 14 days have passed will also be exempted.

Meanwhile, Singapore has detected a COVID-19 cluster in one its largest hospitals, among 16 new locally transmitted infections that were reported on Thursday, its highest number of domestic cases in seven months. Eight of the cases announced late Thursday were linked to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, the health ministry said. The hospital’s cases include a doctor and a nurse who were vaccinated with 2 doses for the coronavirus. Both had symptoms. The Filipino nurse was believed to be the patient zero at the hospital.

Hence, it is unsure why foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong who received 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccination are exempted from compulsory virus testing taking into account that the current virus strain discovered in the local community is possibly of a South African strain.

The new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna seem to be remarkably good at preventing serious illness. But it’s unclear how well they will curb the spread of the coronavirus. That’s because the Pfizer/BioNTechh and Moderna trials tracked only how many vaccinated people became sick with COVID-19. That leaves open the possibility that some vaccinated people get infected without developing symptoms, and could then silently transmit the virus — especially if they come in close contact with others or stop wearing masks. If vaccinated people are silent spreaders of the virus, they may keep it circulating in their communities, putting unvaccinated people at risk.

As mentioned earlier, although vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech is around 91% effective at preventing COVID-19 for up to six months, the South African variant may evade the protection provided by Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to some extent, a real-world data study in Israel found, though its prevalence in the country is very low and the research has not been peer reviewed. The study, released earlier this month, compared almost 400 people who had tested positive for COVID-19, 14 days or more after they received one or two doses of the vaccine, against the same number of unvaccinated patients with the disease. But among patients who had received two doses of the vaccine, the variant’s prevalence rate was eight times higher than those unvaccinated – 5.4% versus 0.7%. This suggests the vaccine is less effective against the South African variant, compared with the original coronavirus and a variant first identified in Britain that has come to comprise nearly all COVID-19 cases in Israel, the researchers said.

For the sake of precaution, those who are vaccinated should also be tested to prevent any possibility for the mutant virus to go deeper into the community.