Some residents of a residential block in Wong Tai Sin were being evacuated on Monday night, amid suspicion that the coronavirus is being transmitted vertically at the building.
Dr Albert Au of the Centre for Health Protection said three people who live in units E on the lower floors at block one of Tropicana Gardens have tested positive for Covid-19.
Microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung, who advises the government on the pandemic, said he believes the virus was transmitted upwards, adding that all residents living in units E of the block should move out.
He said the source of the transmission could be a hamster that one of the patients bought from the "I Love Rabbit" shop in Mong Kok in early December, as environmental samples collected from the shop had tested positive for the virus.
The 26-year-old man, who lives in unit 5E, went to see a private doctor after feeling unwell on January 15, but didn't get tested until last week.
Two residents living upstairs – a man aged 75 from unit 7E and a 77-year-old woman from unit 8E – subsequently came down with the virus.
Yuen said the drains at unit 7E were covered by plastic tape, which could have exacerbated the spread of the virus.
"[The resident] thought there's no need to pour water down as long as the drain was covered, because they're afraid cockroaches would come out from the drain, but plastic tape can't really the seal off the drain," he explained.
"When you turn on the exhaust fan, air from the sewage pipe will be easily drawn back [into the flat], and it's easy to be infected under such circumstances."
The narrow lightwell of the building, he said, might have facilitated the virus transmission as well.
Separately, a handful of residents of Fu Keung House at Tai Wo Hau Estate will also be evacuated on Monday night over suspicion of vertical transmission.
Authorities say those living in units 321 and 421 need to move out after it’s been found that these two flats share the same sewage pipes. There were confirmed cases in at least two other units in the building.
Officials say the virus may be transmitted from the upper to the lower floor during the flushing process, adding that this is something that has happened before.
Partial evacuation at Wong Tai Sin block
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