Officials rush to contain spread of Covid variant

Health officials warned on Saturday that more coronavirus cases might surface after a 17-year-old girl who lives in Tin Shui Wai contracted a variant of Covid-19 first detected in the UK, while urging people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

The girl’s mother has also tested preliminary positive. The source of their infections remains unknown.

Neither of them have been inoculated against Covid-19.

The girl is a student at a secondary school in Tin Shui Wai and has attended tutorial classes in Tuen Mun. She also visited an expo in Wan Chai.

Her mother visited more places during her incubation period, including a food court, an elderly care home, a restaurant, a hospital and a social welfare department office in Tai Po, a supermarket, a market and a public library in Tin Shui Wai, a Chinese medicine clinic in Yuen Long, a cemetery in Cheung Sha Wan and a law firm in Admiralty.

All people who have been to these places at the same time as the patients will be ordered to get tested for Covid.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan from the Centre for Health Protection said more than 100 people who have come into contact with them will be quarantined in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We’re worried because the two patients have gone to various places and it is a mutant strain. It may be more infectious,” she said.

“We will quarantine even those who were not considered as close contacts before.”

The centre’s controller, Dr Ronald Lam, said the cases highlighted the importance of boosting the vaccination rate in Hong Kong as quickly as possible.

He said there’s a chance that mutated strains of the coronavirus might leak into the community even though Hong Kong’s quarantine measures for inbound travellers are among the strictest in the world.

“We can see that regions such as India and Taiwan previously reported relatively fewer Covid cases. But they have been hit hard by mutated strains of coronavirus and the situation is frightening,” he said.

He said the two vaccines currently available in Hong Kong, produced by Sinovac and BioNTech, are proven to be effective against Covid variants.