Press Releases in Hong Kong

HK detects first untraceable virus case in nearly 3 months

A man scans a QR code for the government's Leave Home Safe app, used for contact tracing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, to enter Immigration Tower in Hong Kong on Dec 9, 2021.
(BERTHA WANG / AFP)

HONG KONG – Hong Kong's health authorities are investigating a preliminary positive COVID-19 case that appears to be unlinked to any other recent cases, making it the first untraceable COVID-19 infection in the city since Oct 8.

The case involved a 42-year-old man who lives with his wife and daughter in Tuen Mun and works in North Point as a surveyor, said Albert Au Ka-wing, principal medical and health officer of the Centre for Health Protection Tuesday afternoon. 

The man developed a headache and fever on Jan 1 and tested preliminarily positive on Monday, Au said. He carried the mutant strains N501Y and T478K, indicating a high likelihood of the Omicron variant

The man developed a headache and fever on Jan 1 and tested preliminarily positive on Monday, Au said. He carried the mutant strains N501Y and T478K, indicating a high likelihood of the Omicron variant.

The man had not visited any high-risk areas and he had not been to the Moon Palace restaurant in Festival Walk which has a cluster of six cases so far, according to Au. He has not been in contact with any known COVID-19 patients either, Au noted. The patient is now receiving treatment at the North Lantau Hospital Hong Kong Infection Control Centre.

"This is very worrying because this signifies there could already be a silent transmission chain in the community,” Au said. He added that authorities are still trying to track the source of his infection.

In a statement, the government said it set up a "restricted area" at 7 pm Tuesday at the building where the man lives for targeted testing. 

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Residents of Block 2, Tsui Ning Garden, 2 Fung On Street in Tuen Mun are required to undergo COVID-19 testing before midnight, according to the statement. The government aims to finish the exercise at around 6:30 am Wednesday.

Residents of Block 2, Tsui Ning Garden, 2 Fung On Street in Tuen Mun are required to undergo COVID-19 testing before midnight, according to a CHP statement

Places recently visited by the man will be listed in the compulsory testing notice while his close contacts will be sent to the governments' quarantine center, Au said.

Hong Kong reported 39 cases that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that caused COVID-19 – bringing the tally of positive cases in the city to 12,761.

Among the 39 cases, 13 were confirmed infections while the remaining 26 were asymptomatic cases, the CHP said in a separate statement.

The new cases comprised 36 imported cases and three cases epidemiologically linked with imported cases. Thirty-four of the cases involved mutant strains while mutation test results of the remaining five cases are pending, the CHP said.

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

The patients involved 16 men and 23 women, aged 13 to 66.

The new patients included a 66-year-old female patron of Moon Palace, who had a meal at the Chinese restaurant from around 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm on Dec 27. She is the sixth confirmed case related to the cluster.

A 13-year-old girl who is the daughter of another infected patron – a 50-year-old woman – also tested preliminarily positive, the CHP added.

Among the 39 new cases, the infections of a 35-year-old man and a 62-year-old woman were linked to a 28-year-old Cathay aircrew member whose infection was confirmed on Jan 2. 

From Dec 21 to Jan 3, a total of 188 cases tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus have been reported, the CHP said. Six of them were epidemiologically linked or possibly linked with imported cases, while the rest were imported.

Meanwhile, the whole genome sequencing analysis of previously confirmed cases showed that 12 more cases carried the Omicron variant, bringing the tally to 114.

Flights banned

Also on Tuesday, the Department of Health announced to prohibit the landing in Hong Kong from Jan 4 to 17 of passenger flights operated by Cathay Pacific from Seoul, Air India from Delhi, Air Canada from Vancouver, Thai Airways from Bangkok, and Philippines AirAsia from Manila.

The announcement came as a Cathay flight from Seoul and an Air India flight from Delhi each has three passengers who tested possible upon arrival in Hong Kong on Jan 2. An Air Canada flight from Vancouver has four passengers testing positive, a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok has five passengers testing positive, and a Philippines AirAsia flight has eight people testing positive upon arrival in the city on the same day.