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There have been several infections of unknown origin recorded in Hong Kong over the past few days. Photo: Winson Wong

Hong Kong airport worker confirmed with Covid-19, sparking temporary closure of two schools and suspension of children’s soccer training

  • Case involving aircraft repairman, 40, is fifth infection of unknown origin recorded over the past week
  • Kindergarten and primary school attended by two children closed for two days
The Covid-19 infection of an aircraft repairman has triggered the temporary closure of two schools in Hong Kong and suspension of some soccer training sessions.

The Centre for Health Protection said on Thursday that the 40-year-old man, who worked at Hong Kong International Airport, had contact with cargo aircraft staff. His case was among the seven recorded on Thursday as another Covid-19 patient died.

The latest fatality, a 78-year-old man, had fought the virus for more than three months but died in Princess Margaret Hospital on Thursday afternoon. He had been a resident of Sham Shui Po King Fok Nursing Home where a coronavirus cluster had been reported.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch of the Centre for Health Protection, said the infected airport worker had heard there were confirmed Covid-19 cases among the cargo staff.

“We are still investigating details of the roster and whether there were indeed those [confirmed] cases,” Chuang said. “It is possible that at the end of our investigation we will identify [the man’s] contacts with some confirmed cases. It could then be a case linked with other infections.”

About 50 schools expected to join Covid-19 staff testing scheme each day

The community infection was the fifth of unknown origin recorded over the past week.

The man had not gone to work during his infectious period, but had visited several soccer pitches with his children, aged five and seven, including in Kowloon Bay, Ma On Shan, Tin Shui Wai, Shek Mun in Sha Tin, and Morse Park in Wong Tai Sin.

He had also visited Kowloon Bay shopping centre MegaBox, and the 448 Farm in Yuen Long.

Chuang said the man had kept apart from other parents and watched the soccer sessions from a distance. But his children played with up to three teams, each consisting of 10 members.

She added the children did not wear masks while playing and could have come into contact with others while getting changed. The children, parents and instructors would also be given specimen bottles for tests, although authorities believed the risks of the virus spreading among them was low.

In his workplace, the man had frequent contact with crew members but interactions remained brief, with only short conversations on repair matters. They did not have meals together.

There were 256 people in his company and 60 in his team.

One of his children attends SKH Tin Shui Wai Ling Oi Primary School and the other SKH St Joseph’s Church Kindergarten in Kam Tin. The schools would need to suspend classes for two days to await confirmation on the two children’s Covid-19 status.

The two children later tested negative for the virus, while another adult family member who had developed a fever was awaiting test results.

Chuang said specimen bottles for Covid-19 testing would also be given to everyone at the two schools.

A circular from Kitchee Academy said three soccer training classes would be suspended for four days until Sunday for safety reasons. The academy’s centre in Shek Mun would also be disinfected thoroughly.

The remaining six cases recorded on Thursday were all imported, and involved a traveller and a seafarer from the Philippines, two aircrew staff from Turkey and Russia, and two arrivals from Brazil and India.

Hong Kong had recorded 5,355 confirmed infections and 107 related deaths. The city logged its first coronavirus-linked fatality in more than a month on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a primary school head teacher said the half-day operation of classes in place since the resumption last September should continue into 2021.

Education minister Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said on Wednesday that the government did not have any concrete plan on when to resume full-day classes.

Cheung Yung-pong, honorary chairman of the Hong Kong Aided Primary School Heads Association, warned against their return until after the Christmas break, citing the winter flu season.

“Some parents are worried there will be a higher risk of infection if schools go back on full-day classes, especially when children take off their mask during lunchtime,” Cheung said.

Separately, three vending machines for free distribution of specimen collection kits for Covid-19 testing went into operation at three general outpatient clinics on Thursday. More than 200 kits were given out via the machines.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Two schools to briefly close after parent infected