Hong Kong detects case of new COVID-19 variant in passenger from Manila

Hong Kong detects case of new COVID-19 variant in passenger from Manila
Stranded passengers set up camp at the NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay City after their flights were canceled due to the threat of heavy rain and strong winds brought by Typhoon Tisoy.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Hong Kong's health authorities said they had detected a case of the new coronavirus variant initially found in Britain in a passenger who returned from Manila on December 22.

Experts believe this COVID-19 variant to be considerably more contagious than the original strain first detected in China.

Four cases of the new variant were detected in Hong Kong. Among them was a 30-year-old female Hong Kong resident, who returned from Manila on December 22.

In a virtual press briefing, Chuang Shuk-Kwan, head of the communicable disease branch of the Hong Kong health department, said the patient, tagged as Case 9003, arrived in Hong Kong via PR 300.

“[Case] 9003 took the PR 300 and arrived in Hong Kong on the 22nd of December from [the] Philippines,” she said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Wednesday early morning said they are coordinating with the International Health Regulations focal point of Hong Kong for further details.  

They will also retrieve the flight manifest for the identified flight, Vergeire added. 

On Saturday, the health department reported there was no confirmed case yet of the new COVID-19 variant.

The new strain, which experts say potentially spreads faster than the original variant, has prompted travel restrictions on the United Kingdom by more than 50 countries.

It has raised questions over whether existing vaccines will be able to combat it. Chinese firm Sinopharm has said its vaccine -- with a claimed effectiveness of 79% -- can tackle the new variant. — Kristine Daguno-Bersamina with report from Agence France-Presse

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