Expert: quarantine aircrew to stop new variant

Infectious diseases expert Joseph Tsang said on Monday that the government should consider further narrowing quarantine exemption to prevent a new and potentially more transmissible Covid variant from entering the community.

Tsang made the comment on an RTHK programme a few days after a man from London was found to be carrying the so-called “Delta plus” AY. 4.2 variant.

“After all, many Hong Kong people are in the UK, and when they come back, we really have to find out whether they are infected with this variant,” he said.

“The exempted list still includes aircrew and pilots. Do we have to change that? I think the government has to monitor the situation in the UK… there should be as few exempted people as possible. This applies to aircrew as well,” said Tsang.

The expert from the Hong Kong Medical Association said the government can consider imposing quarantine rules on aircrew from local carrier Cathay Pacific first, and expand it to other airlines later.

As for the Tourism Board’s planned New Year’s concert, Tsang said the risk of it causing an outbreak is low.

The board had said it will give out 3,000 free tickets by lucky draw for the outdoor countdown concert.

Tsang said the risk is not high, because Hong Kong hasn’t seen any local cases for a while, people will be wearing their masks during the event, and they will be required to use the LeaveHomeSafe app to record their attendance.