Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023

Omicron Hong Kong: fears of exponential growth in cases as cluster spreads

Omicron Hong Kong: fears of exponential growth in cases as cluster spreads

Health officials are investigating an untraceable Covid-19 case involving a 58-year-old woman who visited the Hong Kong Brands and Products Expo on Monday.

Hong Kong health officials are warning of exponential growth in Covid-19 cases and invisible transmission chains spreading in the community, as an Omicron cluster expanded to several circles including a dance group, politicians, churchgoing domestic helpers and patrons in two restaurants in less than two weeks.

They are also investigating an untraceable Covid-19 case involving a woman who visited the popular Hong Kong Brands and Products Expo in Victoria Park on Monday.

More than 350 people, including 170 partygoers, 60 people at an alumni gathering, 30 from a kindergarten and 93 domestic helpers, will need to be isolated as a result of the growing cluster. About a quarter of the 4,600 rooms in quarantine facilities have been filled.

A Department of Health spokesman said close contacts would be given verbal reminders that they should stay at home before being sent to quarantine, unless they had to buy necessities.

But respiratory medicine expert Dr Leung Chi-chiu said the arrangement would heighten the risk of a community outbreak.

“It may be safer for family members of close contacts to help them, but the best solution is for the government to assist them and provide necessities at quarantine facilities,” he said.

On Friday night, authorities locked down Mayland Court in Causeway Bay for compulsory testing after sewage samples in the residential building tested positive.

A government spokesman said: “It is suspected that there are asymptomatic patients in the building. After a risk assessment, we think it is necessary [to test everyone] to break the transmission chain in the district.”

Three other buildings – in Happy Valley, Ho Man Tin and Wan Chai – where residents had tested preliminary-positive were also locked down for screening overnight.

Health authorities are racing to contain two Omicron clusters, one originating from a dance group and another at the Moon Palace restaurant in Kowloon Tong’s Festival Walk shopping centre.

The dance cluster, which has now grown to 14 confirmed cases and six preliminary-positive ones, originated with a 28-year-old Cathay Pacific flight attendant – who returned to the city from Los Angeles on December 27 carrying the highly transmissible Omicron variant – and her socially active mother.

Centre for Health Protection (CHP) controller Dr Edwin Tsui Lok-kin noted there were at least three transmission chains with second- or third-generation spread, adding that one Omicron patient could pass the virus to six to eight people.

“With fourth-generation transmission, there will be exponential growth in cases,” he said, referring to the flight attendant’s mother, who authorities suspect spread the disease to a friend and her husband, as well as the husband’s colleague.

“We also cannot rule out that there are invisible transmission chains in the community.”

Tsui urged the public to avoid crowded places and non-essential gatherings, not to meet members of other families and to wear masks as much as possible.

Authorities on Friday confirmed 33 new infections, including 26 imported cases. About 30 preliminary-positive ones were also reported.

The city’s overall case tally now stands at 12,865, with 213 related deaths. There have been 223 confirmed Omicron cases, most of them imported.

The flight attendant’s unvaccinated mother contracted the virus and is believed to have spread it to at least four groups, namely, members of her dance crowd, several others who ate with her at Six Garden Restaurant in Tin Hau, a birthday party attended by 170 people including some top government officials and a church where many domestic helpers worship.

The mother had breakfast at Six Garden with two friends on New Year’s Eve. The daughter of one of the women went to the birthday party three days later, triggering the political storm.

All those present at the birthday party will be ordered into quarantine after a second infection, a preliminary case said to be a programme host at RTHK, was reported on Friday. She had shared a meal with three colleagues in recent days, the public broadcaster said.

RTHK told staff to leave its Broadcasting House building in Kowloon Tong by 6.45pm on Friday so it could begin disinfection.

A second domestic helper who attended services at a Fortress Hill church on Saturday and Sunday was confirmed as infected. Health officials said they believed she was infected by another helper whose employer was visited by the flight attendant’s mother at their home. Two other helpers who were at the church tested preliminary-positive.

The flight attendant’s mother also infected a man who dined at East Ocean Lafayette restaurant in Causeway Bay on the morning of December 30. Health authorities said they were sitting close by and smoke tests showed air flowed from the direction of the woman’s table to the man’s.

The CHP said about 130 people had dined at the restaurant during the same period and urged them to contact authorities as soon as possible.

Tsui said he was concerned about a wider outbreak at the restaurant similar to the one at Moon Palace.

Meanwhile, two schools, Pui Kiu Middle School in North Point and Shun Tak Fraternal Association Tuen Mun Leung Lee Sau Yu Kindergarten, have also suspended classes after parents linked to the dance cluster were confirmed as infected.

A four-year-old kindergarten pupil, whose father dined at Six Garden, tested preliminary-positive on Friday. Some 30 students and teachers in the same class have been identified as close contacts and will be quarantined.

The Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, the city’s biggest teachers’ group, called on authorities to suspend face-to-face classes in kindergartens.

The city’s first Omicron cluster – linked to Moon Palace – has expanded to nine confirmed infections. The cluster was sparked by a Cathay Pacific crew member who ate lunch with his father in violation of company rules regarding self-isolation.

The latest patient in the cluster is a woman who lives in Ma On Shan. She had not visited Moon Palace but was classified as a close contact of an infected construction worker, who had eaten in the restaurant and went to her home to do scaffolding work.

In view of the growing cluster, the city’s Medical Association suggested the government consider ordering compulsory testing of all domestic helpers to cut down possible transmission chains.


Related Articles

Hong Kong News
2 earthquakes in Turkey killed over 2,300 people
Powerful Earthquake Strikes Turkey and Syria, Killing More Than 1,300 People.
Turkish photographer Ugur Gallenkus portrays two different worlds within a single image. Brilliant work
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
Hong Kong airlines taking bold action after the years of pandemic lockdown and travel restrictions, to make Hong Kong great again
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
Chinese search giant Baidu to launch ChatGPT like AI chatbot.
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
China is opening up for foreign investors.
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
China relaxes 'red lines' on property sector borrowing in policy pivot
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
Japan prosecutors indict man for ex-PM Shinzo Abe murder
Vietnam removes two deputy PMs amid anti-corruption campaign
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
China’s recovery could add 1% to Australia’s GDP: JPMorgan 
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
China vows to strengthen financial support for enterprises: official
International medical experts speak out against COVID-19 restrictions on China
2 Billion People To Travel In China's "Great Migration" Over Next 40 Days
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
Flight constraints expected to weigh on China travel rebound
Billionaire Jack Ma relinquishes control of Ant Group
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
Teslas now over 40% cheaper in China than US
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
China seeks course correction in US ties but will fight ‘all forms of hegemony’, top diplomat Wang Yi says
China will boost spending in 2023
African traders welcome end of China’s Covid travel curbs
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX