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Published: 14:45, September 13, 2021 | Updated: 20:34, September 13, 2021
HK allocates HK$343m for COVID-19 research, logs 1 case
By Wang Zhan
Published:14:45, September 13, 2021 Updated:20:34, September 13, 2021 By Wang Zhan

People take photos at a playground in a public housing estate in Hong Kong on August 29, 2021. (BERTHA WANG / AFP)

HONG KONG - Hong Kong reported one new imported COVID-19 case on Monday as the government allocated an additional HK$343 million for research to better prepare the city for its recovery from the pandemic.

The Centre for Health Protection said the new patient is a 26-year-old man who flew in from Qatar. He was vaccinated in Hong Kong on April 26 and May 17 and had tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies on July 7. 

The Centre for Health Protection said the new patient is a 26-year-old man who flew in from Qatar. He was vaccinated in Hong Kong on April 26 and May 17

The patient started having symptoms on Sept 11, the CHP said, adding that the city's tally stood at 12,146.   

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the government announced that the number of COVID-19 nucleic acid testing institutions in Guangdong, which are recognized by the Hong Kong government, will be increased from 54 to more than 700 starting from Wednesday. 

The expanded list will be applicable to the current Return2hk Scheme as well as the Come2hk Scheme, which will be launched on the same day.

The testing institutions in the list will upload the nucleic acid test results to the Yuekang Code system, and travellers who are planning to enter Hong Kong under the Return2hk Scheme or the Come2hk Scheme may use the results as valid proof of a negative nucleic acid test result, the spokesman said.

In another development, the Food and Health Bureau and the Research Council chaired by the Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee announced Monday that an additional HK$343 million has been allocated to support local universities that are conducting research studies on COVID-19.

This is the third batch of funding in addition to a total of HK$170 million approved under the Health and Medical Research Fund for 49 applications that were announced on April 27 and August 5 last year, according to a government statement.

ALSO READ: HK sees 3 new imported virus cases, including variant infection

"A total of HK$513 million has been approved to support 67 COVID-19 research studies from bench to bedside and at the community level through application of new technologies,” Chan was quoted in the statement as saying.

“With the joint efforts from academia, healthcare professionals and government departments, these research studies have been contributing to our ongoing anti-pandemic efforts, thus strengthening community resilience amidst the pandemic," she added.

The 18 newly approved studies include evaluation of vaccine-induced immune response and vaccination safety for different groups, as well as comparison of the immune status in naturally infected and vaccinated cohorts; and research on the role of gut microbiota in enhancing immune response to vaccination.

The earlier studies looked into important research areas related to immune status, response to vaccination and the physical and mental consequences of "long COVID" or the persistent, delayed or long-term complications of COVID-19 infection.

"Early results of some studies show that both the Comirnaty and CoronaVac vaccines are highly effective in protecting the vaccinated population by preventing severe cases and death from COVID-19. The projections based on regular population surveys on vaccination have highlighted the need to increase vaccination uptake rates in the elderly through facilitating measures,” Chan said.

READ MORE: HK sees 5 new virus cases, puts 2 blocks under mandatory testing

“Meanwhile, genomic sequencing of mutant variants isolated from clinical and environmental samples (such as sewage) will provide useful and timely information on reviewing quarantine arrangements of local COVID-19 cases with mutant strains, vaccine performance and clinical management," she added.

Interim results of these studies will be presented by the project teams at the Health Research Symposium 2021 on Nov 23.

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