UK coronavirus variant likely found in Hong Kong as city secures vaccine supplies
HONG KONG (Reuters) - A new variant of the novel coronavirus, which is spreading rapidly in the UK, appears to have infected two students who have returned to Hong Kong from the UK, the Hong Kong Ministry of Health said on Wednesday as the city reached 22.5 million Doses received from COVID-19 vaccine.
The virus samples from the two students who returned to the Asian financial center in December appeared to be carrying the UK variant of the coronavirus, Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease division of the Center for Health Protection, an agency of the Ministry of Health, told a daily press conference.
More analysis would need to be done to verify the samples, she said.
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Hong Kong executive director Carrie Lam said at a separate press conference on Wednesday the government had received 7.5 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and was looking for a fourth source to adequately serve the city's 7.5 million residents.
Residents could choose which vaccine to take in response to safety concerns, she said.
"I urge the public to get vaccinated for the benefit of themselves and their loved ones," said Lam.
Hong Kong has already ordered 7.5 million doses of Chinese vaccines from Sinovac Biotech Ltd and 7.5 million doses of vaccines from Fosun Pharma-BioNTech. Sinovac's first batch of one million vaccine doses is expected to be shipped to Hong Kong in January.
Lam said the government passed an emergency law that allows authorities to bypass normal regulatory process in order to provide vaccines to residents.
Hong Kong has banned all flights from the UK since Tuesday, making it the first city in Asia to announce such a stop.
There was a surge in cases in Hong Kong in late November, prompting authorities to stop eating in restaurants after 6 p.m. Local time and close to gyms and beauty salons. The measures should be in effect by at least January 6th.
(Reporting by Farah Master; editing by Bernadette Baum)
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