Airport should step up Covid controls sooner: expert

Infectious disease expert Leung Chi-chiu on Monday questioned why the Airport Authority (AA) is waiting until August to require workers entering the restricted area to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or to present a negative test result.

Leung’s comment came after a 50-year-old airport worker was confirmed on Sunday to be carrying a mutant strain of the coronavirus, which prompted authorities to order more than 70,000 people working at the airport to undergo tests.

Speaking on an RTHK programme, the medical expert said the possibility of having silent transmission at the airport is not high, and the porter probably was directly exposed to the virus in his working environment.

The AA announced on June 23 that to further strengthen the protection of airport staff and passengers, starting from August 1, it will require all airport staff entering the restricted area to present proof of full Covid-19 vaccination, or a negative test result.

But Leung suggested this could be done sooner, adding that those who have been vaccinated should not be exempted from regular tests because they are not “100 percent immune” to the coronavirus and could still infect others.

Airport workers who are exposed to “higher infectious risks” should be required to get vaccinated, the expert said, adding that both the Sinovac and BioNTech vaccines are effective against the more contagious Delta variant.