Mutated Covid strain found in the community again

Health officials said on Friday that they may have found another person carrying a highly infectious coronavirus variant in the community.

The patient was a domestic helper who arrived from the Philippines on March 27.

Since moving into her employers’ home on Kennedy Road on April 17, she had been to Central and Wan Chai before testing preliminary positive for the N501Y variant.

The Centre for Health Protection’s Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan said when the helper was quarantined at a hotel in Sai Ying Pun, she was next to a family who was later confirmed to be carrying the mutated strain.

Chuang said a probe was underway to ascertain whether it was just a coincidence or whether there were cross-infections between the guests at the hotel.

As a precaution, authorities said they would quarantine people who lived on the same floor with the helper and the family in the hotel.

Chuang said there were other possibilities as to how the helper got infected.

“She just finished the quarantine, and all the previous tests were negative, so similar to the previous cases, there are also a few possibilities,” Chuang said.

“Either she’s an imported case but could not be picked up during the quarantine. Or she acquired the infection after staying in Hong Kong during the quarantine period, or she acquired the infection while she stayed with the employer family,” the doctor added.

“As usual, we will quarantine the employer’s family and other close contacts to find out if there are other sources in the community.”

The helper was one of two preliminary positive cases reported on Friday.

The other preliminary positive case involved a driver who works for the government.

Since he had been to a gym at around the same time as another patient, people who went to the same gym on the evening of April 16 were being sent into quarantine as a precaution.

Meanwhile, authorities reported nine new infections, all but one of which imported.

The single local case was a 23-year-old woman who lives in Block 10 of South Horizons.

The source of her infection was unclear.

Some of her colleagues were sent into quarantine and some were ordered to get tested.

The imported cases comprised of people flying in from India, the Netherlands, the Philippines and Indonesia.