Hong Kong gov’t issues travel alerts for UK, US as coronavirus cases climb to 149

A worker disinfects the entrance of a Tai Po housing block after it was partially evacuated over fears of coronavirus transmissions in the building. Screengrab via Facebook/RTHK.
A worker disinfects the entrance of a Tai Po housing block after it was partially evacuated over fears of coronavirus transmissions in the building. Screengrab via Facebook/RTHK.

The Hong Kong government has issued red outbound travel alerts for the U.S., U.K. and Ireland in a bid to prevent more imported COVID-19 cases.

The news comes after health officials confirmed 14 new coronavirus cases in the city over the weekend, bringing the total number of recorded cases to 149.

The newly-confirmed cases comprise 10 men and four women, aged 28 to 66, 11 of whom had traveled outside of Hong Kong during the incubation period. Their destinations and transfer areas included Japan, France, Morocco, Spain, the Netherlands, the U.K., Germany, Austria, the U.S., and Canada.

Health officials hinted on Sunday afternoon that authorities were mulling implementing a red outbound travel alert, the second-highest, after black, of Hong Kong’s three travel risk categories. Then, at 8:30pm on Sunday, the Security Bureau issued a statement confirming that the U.S., the U.K., and Ireland would also be added to the list of countries with red outbound travel alerts.

Authorities had already issued red travel alerts for countries in the Schengen area, which includes most of Western Europe.

Additionally, the Department of Health has also beefed up their home quarantine measures, announcing that starting from Tuesday, anyone who has visited Korea or any country in the Schengen area in the last 14 days will have to undergo mandatory home quarantine. From midnight on Thursday, anyone entering Hong Kong who has been to the U.S., U.K., Ireland, or Egypt will also be given quarantine orders.

Last week, the Security Bureau issued red outbound travel alerts for parts of France, Germany, Japan, Spain, and all of Italy after parts of Europe saw a surge in coronavirus cases.

Of the 14 new cases, only three had no travel history during the 14-day incubation period. One is the 66-year-old maternal grandfather of a toddler who was confirmed on Friday as the youngest COVID-19 case in the city.

Authorities also confirmed that a 59-year-old man among the new coronavirus cases lives in the same apartment block as a couple who recently traveled to Egypt in a tour group that has been at the center of a cluster of COVID-19 cases.

The man had mostly stayed at home due to a back problem, and lived two floors above the couple, leading to suggestions that he may have been infected at home. About 43 residents living in units 13 and 14 between the 29th and 34th floors were immediately sent to a quarantine camp as a precaution, RTHK reports.

Last month dozens of people were evacuated from an apartment block in Tsing Yi after two people living on different floors in the same building tested positive for the coronavirus.

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CITY: HONG KONGCATEGORY: NEWS

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