Three thousand workers building a third runway at Hong Kong International Airport have been ordered to take a Covid-19 test and stay home until the result arrives after nine of their number were preliminarily confirmed to have contracted the disease over the weekend.
Two major work packages involving more than seven large contractors have been suspended for 14 days.Â
The sudden spike in cases at the US$18bn project – which involves building the 3.8km runway and associated infrastructure on 650 hectares of land reclaimed from the sea – came after a smattering of single and double cases appeared throughout January.
Authorities in Hong Kong are alarmed at a fourth wave of coronavirus infections there. On Saturday, the government confirmed 919 new cases in the 14 days to 29 January, most transmitted locally.
Hong Kong Airport Authority said the affected workers had been installing airfield ground lighting, work that has now been suspended.
On Saturday, 30 January the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) exercised its power to issue a compulsory testing order to anyone who had worked on or been present for more than two hours at the construction sites of contracts 3206 (Main Reclamation Works) and 3303 (Third Runway and Associated Works) any time from 17 to 30 January.
These people must get their test by 2 February or face a HK$5,000 fine. Failure to comply a second time could mean a fine of HK$25,000 and imprisonment for six months.
The government set up two new mobile testing centres on Sunday to process the extra compulsory tests.
Also subject to the latest compulsory test order are residents and visitors to 11 buildings in the Yau Tsim Mong district of Kowloon, where inspectors have detected traces of the coronavirus in sewage.
Image: Reclamation works underway in November 2020 on the Hong Kong International Airport "Three-Runway System" expansion project (Still from a project update video published by Hong Kong International Airport)