Press Releases in Hong Kong

HK: Dance group cluster feared as 2 test preliminary positive

This photo shows the cruise ship "Spectrum of the Seas" docked at a terminal in Hong Kong on Jan 5, 2022 after it was ordered to return to the city for coronavirus testing after nine people on board were linked to a recent Omicron variant cluster. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)

HONG KONG – A housewife and a domestic helper living in Causeway Bay tested preliminarily positive for COVID-19, forcing the early return of a cruise ship and putting 57 places – including Victoria Park – on the compulsory testing list.

According to a statement issued by the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) around midnight Wednesday, the first case involved a 48-year-old housewife living at Causeway Tower, 16-22 Causeway Road, Causeway Bay. She has no recent travel history during the incubation period and has received two vaccine shots on Aug 20 and Sept 10 in the mainland.

According to the Centre for Health Protection, the first case involves 48-year-old housewife living at Causeway Tower, 16-22 Causeway Road, Causeway Bay

The woman developed headache, cough and sore throat on Jan 2 and was sent to hospital on Jan 4. She tested preliminarily positive with a Ct value of about 20.

The patient is believed to have contracted the virus when dancing with the mother of a Cathay Pacific aircrew member who had been infected with the Omicron variant, together with some 20 friends on Dec 31, 2021 at Victoria Park and Causeway Bay Community Centre.

ALSO READ: HK detects first untraceable virus case in nearly 3 months 

The second case involved a 43-year-old domestic helper living at Chesterfield Mansion, 11 Kingston Street, Causeway Bay. Her employer is another close contact of the Cathay aircrew member's mother.

The domestic helper has no recent travel history. She developed symptoms including fever, cough, runny nose and sore throat on Jan 2 and was arranged by her employer to a boarding house for FDH at Rialto Mansion, 177-191A King's Road, North Point on Jan 4. She was sent to hospital on the same day and tested preliminarily positive, with a Ct value of less than 20. She had received two vaccine shots.

According to CHP investigation, the aircrew member's mother visited the domestic helper’s employer on Dec 30, 2021. The employer was among the more than 20 people dancing on Dec 31 at Victoria Park and Causeway Bay Community Centre.

'Spectrum of the Seas'

The employer of the domestic helper, as well as eight close contacts of the aircrew member's mother, are currently on cruise ship "Spectrum of the Seas". The "cruise-to-nowhere" vessel, with 2,500 passengers and 1,200 staff members onboard, departed on Jan 2 and was ordered to return to the city.

At the request of the CHP, all nine have been quarantined on the ship. Their testing samples all returned preliminarily negative so far.

Passengers on board the docked "Spectrum of the Seas" at a terminal in Hong Kong on Jan 5, 2022 after it was ordered to return to the city for coronavirus testing after nine people on board were linked to a recent Omicron variant cluster. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)

The CHP has also requested the cruise ship to return earlier, which was back at in harbor around 8 am Wednesday morning. All passengers and staff members will be tested when the cruise ship arrived Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. The nine close contacts will be sent to Penny's Bay Quarantine Centre for quarantine.

The government has made a "restriction-testing declaration" last night for the buildings where the two preliminary positive cases lived. People residing or working at the buildings will be subject to increased compulsory testing frequency.

ALSO READ: HKU research team successfully isolates Omicron variant

The places where they had visited during the incubation periods will also be included in a compulsory testing notice. (details here)

‘Loud alarm bell’

Speaking on a radio show Wednesday morning Dean of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine Gabriel Leung said a “loud alarm bell” has sounded.

The recent preliminary positive cases, including the untraceable case in Tuen Mun, are apparently not linked to the Moon Palace cluster. It means there are two hidden transmission chains in the community, Leung said.

“Hong Kong should not lose another moment in tightening the social distancing measures,” he said, adding that the community transmission will only spread further if the government doesn’t implement stringent measures in the first stage of an outbreak.

Leung said all social distancing measures in the third and fourth wave in Hong Kong should be reinstated.

READ MORE: HK logs 26 virus cases, including 1 linked to Moon Palace cluster

If all asymptomatic cases are found and the quarantine for the exempted cases are rigorously enforced,  Hong Kong can relax the anti-epidemic measures again after two weeks. Otherwise, it may take three to six months to rein in the fifth wave, he warned.