Kwai Chung Omicron cluster rises past 100: CHP

A cluster of Omicron infections tore through two locked-down Kwai Chung public housing blocks on Saturday, with authorities reporting that more than 100 people have tested positive for Covid – a five-fold increase from the previous day.

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said 96 confirmed and preliminary positive cases are linked to Yat Kwai House in Kwai Chung Estate, while eight more were reported at the nearby Ying Kwai House.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam later said one additional case was reported at Hiu Kwai House at the same estate.

Authorities had on Friday imposed a five-day lockdown at Yat Kwai House in response to a growing number of infections, and followed up with a single-day lockdown of Ying Kwai House in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Officials have also found the virus in swabs taken from multiple areas of the building – with positive results coming from an elevator button and a door handle on two different floors.

The CHP’s Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan warned the number of cases is expected to rise further.

“The number of cases is expected to increase because there will be an incubation for this illness so once we try to quarantine and isolate all the cases we hope that the case numbers will drop,” she said.

But not all residents of the two affected buildings have come forward for testing yet. Authorities are still looking for some cleaners – saying they may have helped spread the virus around.

Chuang did not specify how many people were yet to be tested.

One of the new preliminary positive results came from a person works at two elderly homes in the area — the Evergreen Nursing Home at Kwai Chung Estate, and the Kwai Hing branch of Tak Cheong Nursing Centre.

Chuang said residents would be sent into quarantine as a precaution.

“The staff of that elderly home… worked at dispensing medications, but usually doesn’t have to directly provide personal care for individual elderly [residents]”, she said.

“But for prudence, we consider those elderly [people] are at risk because… of the high infectivity of Omicron and also I believe many of the elderly aren’t vaccinated.”

Meanwhile, the Hospital Authority said two nursing assistants at Princess Margaret Hospital have also tested preliminary positive for Covid.

One of them lives at Ying Kwai House, and officials suspect she had infected her colleague at the labour ward.

Eight more staff members will be sent to quarantine, but none of the patients there are considered to be close contact as the assistants are thought to have worn their masks properly.

In all, almost 100 new preliminary positives were reported on Saturday. Of 26 newly-confirmed cases, all but one were thought to be locally-acquired and ten are linked to Yat Kwai House.

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Last updated: 2022-01-22 HKT 18:08