‘Mutant strain probably spread at quarantine hotel’

  • 'Mutant strain probably spread at quarantine hotel'

Health authorities said on Tuesday that a coronavirus patient with a mutant strain, whose infection prompted a travel ban affecting three countries, most likely caught the virus at his quarantine hotel, as another guest there was confirmed to be infected.

An Indonesian domestic helper was at the Ramada hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui at the same time as a man who flew in from Dubai last month and was found to have the South African variant after he went out into the community.

The 29-year-old helper stayed at her employer’s flat in Yau Tong after finishing the quarantine and her infection was caught following a mandatory testing order. It is not yet known what strain of the virus she has.

The woman stayed on a different floor of the hotel to the traveller from Dubai. But two other guests on the same floor were also found to have the South African variant.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan from the Centre for Health Protection said it’s highly likely the man who arrived from Dubai caught the virus in the Tsim Sha Tsui hotel. She said the virus could have spread via hooks on the room doors.

“There was a hook at the handle of the door for hanging the lunchbox for the residents in the hotel. So this has been immediately removed at all designated [quarantine] hotels,” Chuang said at the daily coronavirus press briefing.

“We have taken some swabs of those hooks we can get hold of, and all were negative. And the ventilation and drainage pipes at those hotels, no obvious abnormalities have been found.”

Chuang said that in total, around 10 infections have been found among guests of the Ramada in Tsim Sha Tsui since January and officials will investigate these cases further.

The SAR government has banned arrivals from the Philippines, India and Pakistan for the next two weeks, saying people coming to the SAR from these places have been found to be carrying a mutant strain of the virus.