Unlinked Covid infection possibly traced

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said it believes a part-time Sogo department store saleswoman, whose source of infection was unknown previously, probably caught Covid-19 from her father.

Authorities also announced on Monday they are shortening the quarantine period for close contacts of local cases from 21 days to 14 days as capacity at the Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre is quickly running out.

But the 21-day quarantine rule for returnees from high-risk countries will stay.

The CHP on Monday reported 24 new Covid-19 cases. The saleswoman, 20, was one of the five local infections, while the other 19 cases were imported.

Officials said the saleswoman’s father has also tested preliminary positive to coronavirus. They live in Tuen Mun and run a pharmacy in the H.A.N.D.S. shopping centre at Yau Oi Estate.

The man reported feeling unwell earlier this month but didn’t visit a doctor. Authorities said he often ate at a restaurant in the mall.

A Cathay Pacific crew member visited the pharmacy late last month and was later confirmed with the virus.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan from the CHP said, “We have asked previous cases who live in Tuen Mun to see if they had visited the pharmacy. A Cathay Pacific [employee], case 12611, actually visited the pharmacy on December 27 at around 8pm to buy some stuff. We are still asking for more details but it’s possible they are linked. We are running a DNA genome test to see if the two cases are connected.”

People who visited the shopping centre between December 27 and January 9 are required to undergo compulsory testing.

Meanwhile, Chuang said due to a rise in local cases recently, the number of close contacts who need to be sent to the Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre is rapidly increasing.

She said while there were around 900 or so units left at the facility, some 800 people are still waiting to be sent there.

She said the government, after seeking views from experts advising the chief executive on the pandemic, has decided to reduce the quarantine period of close contacts from 21 days to 14 days from Monday to ease the pressure on Penny’s Bay, mainly because cases involving the Omicron variant have a relatively shorter incubation period.

After 14 days, they have to monitor their health but won’t have to stay at home the entire time.

“The close contacts who are discharged from the quarantine centre are advised to self-monitor their symptoms. If they have any symptoms, they are advised to seek medical attention or testing. They have to undergo a compulsory testing on day 19 after the last exposure, but they are not subject to home quarantine, or need to wear any bracelet,” Chuang said.

“As for the returnees, the government is still maintaining a more strict measure against imported cases. At this moment, the quarantine arrangement will stay.”

On the birthday party held by National People’s Congress delegate Witman Hung on January 3, authorities said 214 people went to the banquet, with 104 of them already quarantined.

Officials also said they could not trace everyone who attended the party because the restaurant did not have surveillance cameras installed.
Last updated: 2022-01-11 HKT 08:53