BGI has been conducting COVID-19 tests for the Hong Kong International Airport – through the local JV Sunrise Diagnostics Centre – since last Christmas Eve. We have deployed over 50 laboratory specialists & technicians working 24/7 since then.
Border quarantine is critical to controlling infectious diseases, along with fast and reliable disease detection.
Hong Kong has banned flights from India for 14 days after dozens of passengers reportedly tested COVID-19 positive after flying on a Vistara flight from New Delhi on April 4. A similar ban has been placed on flights from Pakistan and the Philippines, too. The Hong Kong government has placed India in the “extremely high-risk Group A” category.
The 49 positive COVID-19 cases were detected out of a 188-seat Vistara flight from New Delhi to Hong Kong. All of them were tested negative 72 hours prior to the flight and only eight were detected before they began quarantine. The other 41 cases were only identified later during the hotel quarantine.
It is safe to say that if it weren’t for hotel quarantine, Hong Kong would have allowed these 41 passengers to spread the virus in their communities. BGI has played a main role in this process in Hong Kong.
We are able to implement improvements like changing DTS (deep-throat saliva), used since last May, to CNTS (combined nasal and throat swab) collection sample type. We use RT-PCR (reverse transcriptase—polymerase chain reaction), a gold standard for diagnostic test technology. Those procedures allow us to improve the validation process and make the result waiting time reduce from 10 hours to only 2 hours.
Before using CNTS, arrival passengers were arranged to stay in the hotel overnight to wait for the test result. It is now more convenient for the arriving passengers to wait in the airport for the test result within two hours.
Now Hong Kong has a one-stop entry quarantine. After completing the quarantine procedures for entry (collection of specimen, immigration procedures, and baggage claim), the passengers must proceed to the arrival hall and board on the designated transportation following instructions to go to check into a designated quarantine hotel.
The border is safer with improved travelers and staff experience now.
This is another case of success in our fight against COVID-19.