US Consulate closes after Covid-19 alert

An officer of the United States Consulate General in Hong Kong and Macau tested preliminary positive for Covid-19 yesterday.

As a precautionary measure, the consulate at Garden Road, Central, will be closed today for disinfection while waiting for the confirmation test results.

But the consulate said last night: “The employee in question does not work in an office that interacts with the public.”

The consulate did not elaborate on the preliminary positive case, such as whether the employee has a travel history and whether the case involved more infectious Covid-19 variants.

All scheduled services for US citizens and visa applications today will be canceled. The consulate will contact applicants for rescheduling.

The Department of Health said the consulate staff member could be a previously confirmed case in the US who tested preliminary positive, but recovered.

The Centre for Health Protection is in contact with US health authorities to check if the man was a previous case, or if he was reinfected.

In March, a couple in their early 40s working at the consulate were also confirmed with Covid-19, and subsequently passed the infection to one of their young daughters.

The SAR yesterday recorded one imported case from the United Kingdom, taking the tally to 11,944, including 212 deaths.

The latest death is a 78-year-old chronically ill man diagnosed with Covid-19 last December 4.

He recovered from the infection on December 23 but remained at Kwong Wah Hospital in Yau Ma Tei before he died on Sunday night.

The center yesterday also reclassified the infection of a cleaner at quarantine hotel Bridal Tea House in Yau Ma Tei as “linked to an imported case” from “an unknown local source infection.” That was after genetic sequencing found the highly infectious Delta variant she carried was identical to that of an infected hotel resident.

The cleaner, 41, had cleaned the room of the imported case – a 47-year-old woman from Indonesia.

Given the cleaner’s reclassification, Hong Kong has reached zero local infections for 28 days.

Despite that, Macau authorities yesterday said they will monitor the SAR’s epidemic development for a longer period and discuss with mainland officials before reopening the border with Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, 2,000 visitors in Hong Kong who have been forced to prolong their stay in the SAR because of the pandemic can now register for Covid-19 vaccination.

Starting today, they can bring their travel documents and landing slips or extension-of-stay labels issued by the Immigration Department to any of the 124 post offices to book the jabs at one of 29 community vaccination centers.

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