Expert warns of spread of new Omicron sub-variant

A DNA expert on Tuesday said a recent arrival who is believed to have infected nine other people with Covid after completing her quarantine period is carrying an Omicron sub-variant of the virus which hadn’t been detected in Hong Kong before.

Dr Gilman Siu, from Polytechnic University’s department of health technology and informatics, said genome sequencing has found that the woman was carrying the BA2 sub-variant, which it’s thought she may have picked up while in quarantine at a hotel in Yau Ma Tei.

Siu said it is not yet known whether the new sub-variant is more infectious or dangerous than the dominant Omicron strain circulating around the world.

He said he’s worried that the virus is already spreading in the community.

“The first generation of this BA2 already has nine people. It’s a little bit risky for the community,” he said.

“What if the nine people infect another nine people in the community?”

Meanwhile, authorities are still looking into an untraceable case involving a 23-year-old woman who has been infected with the Delta variant of Covid.

Siu said genome sequencing couldn’t find any links between the case and recent imported infections.

He said investigations were underway on whether the animals at the pet shop where the woman works could be the source of the infection.

“Most of the pets in this shop are rodents, in particular hamsters. These kind of animals can possibly be infected by SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, we can’t rule out the possibility that the lady got infected by the animals,” he said.