Government further tightens testing for air crew

The government on Saturday said it was further tightening Covid-19 testing and isolation arrangements for air crew, as the number of coronavirus cases in the SAR continued to rise. The new measures, which the government described as “test and hold”, come into force on Sunday.

Air crew who have been to locations, deemed very high risk, in the 14 days prior to arrival in Hong Kong, will need a negative result from Sars-Cov-2 nucleic acid test taken within 48 hours prior to the flight to Hong Kong. This, though, does not apply to locally-based air crew and freight crew.

On arrival in the SAR, all crew must also take a nucleic acid test at the Department of Health’s Temporary Specimen Collection Centre at the airport and await the results there.

All non-local based air crew, including freight crew, must self isolate at a hotel arranged by the airline until their departure. When laying over at a very high risk place, Hong Kong-based crew must take point-to-point transfer and self-isolate until their next flight.

All airlines will have to arrange point-to-point transport between the airport and their accommodation. The use of public transport is not allowed.

Air crew, who haven’t visited very high risk locations, face similar – though slightly less stringent – requirements.

The new regulations came after Hong Kong reported 36 local cases on Saturday, thirteen of which had no clear source. More than 60 people had also tested preliminary positive.

According to the government’s coronavirus website, the following are classed as very high risk locations: Bangladesh, Belgium, Ecuador (starting from November 28), Ethiopia, France, Germany (from November 28), India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Separately, the government confirmed that there had been 25 cases of discordant results in a trial of testing techniques at the airport. In a statement it said it was not uncommon for different testing techniques, or specimen collection methods, to generate such results. It said this could be due to the sensitivity and specificity of the testing technique.

Last updated: 2020-11-22 HKT 02:08
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