Microbiologist Siddharth Sridhar on Monday said it was "lucky" that there had not been an outbreak of a more infectious strain of Covid-19 in Hong Kong, but added authorities must keep a close eye on the situation.
The University of Hong Kong expert said he believed the situation was now "stable", but given the long incubation period of the virus, authorities should remain cautious.
There had earlier been a scare when a man who flew in from Dubai was found to have a strain of coronavirus with the N501Y mutation, after he had completed his 21-day quarantine in April.
His girlfriend and three domestic helpers living in different districts were subsequently confirmed to have the same strain of the virus, and it was feared that it had spread in the community as officials initially could not find any links between the patients.
It later emerged that the cases were linked after all, and the Dubai arrival and his girlfriend were on Saturday arrested for allegedly lying to authorities trying to trace their contacts.
Sridhar told an RTHK programme that wearing masks probably helped reduce transmission, but added: "We may not be lucky next time. It may cause an outbreak in the community."
Meanwhile, he welcomed the government's plan to relax quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated people, saying the move is worth trying to boost inoculation rates.
He said it’s unlikely that coronavirus will disappear on its own and the only way out of the pandemic is achieving herd immunity through vaccination.
HK escaped variant outbreak by luck: expert
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