Saudi Arabian family sent to isolation camp

Top News | Jane Cheung 23 Jul 2021

A Saudi Arabian consulate official and his family have been sent to an isolation camp as authorities revoked their quarantine exemptions after his two visiting children violated a home isolation order.

The 11-year-old boy and the 13-year-old girl were exempted from hotel quarantine because they are children of a diplomatic officer and were instead asked to undergo home isolation after they flew to Hong Kong last Friday.

But the siblings tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday and authorities on Wednesday moved four close contacts - their father, elder sister, a driver and a domestic helper - living together in Tong Kung Mansion, Taikoo Shing, to a quarantine center for 21 days.

Sources said the father is a high ranking official from the Saudi Arabian consulate. His son and daughter are in hospital in stable condition.

The Department of Health yesterday said high-ranking consulate officials and their immediate families can be exempted from quarantine at designated hotels but they must comply with a closed-loop measure - direct from the airport to their home on their special arranged transport - before they are released from a home isolation period.

The controller of the Centre for Health Protection, Ronald Lam Man-kin, said the case is "a compliance issue" but not a loophole in the exemption policies for necessary travelers.

Authorities are on heightened alert as the girl also tested positive for the highly contagious L452R mutant strain, which is commonly present in the Delta variant first discovered in India, while results are pending on the boy's genetic sequencing.

Contact tracing found them to have gone out multiple times during their "self-isolation." The girl had been to Citygate mall and Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car station in Tung Chung, while her brother had been to The Peak.

Authorities on Wednesday further disclosed the girl had also gone to Apita and Zara at Cityplaza mall in Taikoo Shing.

However, the two have diplomatic immunity and are unlikely to face consequences.

Hong Kong yesterday recorded one imported case from the United States - the 45th straight day with zero local infections - taking the SAR's tally to 11,972, including 212 deaths.

The fresh case is a woman, 49, who arrived at the airport on Cathay Pacific flight CS845 on Tuesday. She also tested positive for the L452R mutant strain, despite completing both doses of German-made BioNTech/Fosun vaccine in Hong Kong in March and April.

However, a preliminary positive imported case in a 36-year-old woman from Dubai yesterday triggered a lockdown at her home in Block 6 of Handsome Court in Tuen Mun.

The woman - who has completed both BioNTech doses for over a month - left Hong Kong for Dubai on July 12 and returned on Emirates flight EK384 on Monday.

She had been staying in a quarantine hotel and her samples taken on the third day of arrival yesterday came back preliminary positive with the L452R strain.

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