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Current Omicron wave may take months to subside: Yuen

2022-01-23 HKT 15:13
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  • Current Omicron wave may take months to subside: Yuen
University of Hong Kong microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung says it may take two to three months to rein in the Omicron outbreaks, saying he expects many more cases to emerge in the community following the exponential increase of infections seen in Kwai Chung.

More than 100 confirmed or preliminary coronavirus infections linked to Kwai Chung Estate had been reported so far, and Yuen said it could get worse.

“Of course, I hope it’s reached the peak now, but I think it’s too early to say. The 100-odd cases could have been infected seven days ago, so the number may climb later,” Yuen told a media session on Sunday.

Yuen said if any infections are found at any blocks in the estate, residents in the same buildings should be tested for five days in a row before authorities decide whether to impose a lockdown, but added he doesn’t think there’s a need to seal off the entire estate at the moment.

"Test them for five days and you'll know how many people in the building are infected. If the number is high, of course, they have to undergo home quarantine," the expert suggested.

Two blocks in the estate have already been locked down for five days for mass testing, and four other buildings were put under single-day lockdowns.

He said he had proposed sealing off Yat kwai House immediately after inspecting the block on Thursday following the surge in cases, but was told it could not be done at such short notice, and a mandatory testing order was issued before a lockdown was imposed on Friday.

Meanwhile, the expert called on those living in the affected blocks not to panic, saying tests have shown that the Omicron variant is less virulent than its relatives like Delta.

He said residents should open their windows to improve ventilation, noting that many patients lived on lower floors where ventilation was less ideal.

He also urged people to wear a fitting mask or two layers of coverings for better protection.