BA.2.12.1 Omicron found in community: CHP - RTHK
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BA.2.12.1 Omicron found in community: CHP

2022-05-20 HKT 20:05
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  • BA.2.12.1 Omicron found in community: CHP
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) on Friday said they have found Hong Kong's first cases of BA.2.12.1 subvariant of Omicron in the community, though experts dismissed concerns of another major outbreak in the territory.

Health officials said the new cases involved a couple who flew in from the United States on May 3 and quarantined at the Lan Kwai Fong Hotel @ Kau Yu Fong.

Officials said they tested negative to the virus throughout their seven-day quarantine, but their tests conducted at a community testing centre on May 14 came back positive.

The woman, 64, had a high viral load, while her husband, 65, was asymptomatic. They were both vaccinated.

They visited various fast food restaurants in Shau Kei Wan and Quarry Bay before they were confirmed positive, and 11 premises they had visited will be issued compulsory testing notices.

"The couple stayed at home most of the time and had worn face masks properly when they went out. So for now, we can't rule out there's already transmission in the community," said CHP's Albert Au.

"We won't rule out finding more cases from the restaurants."

After further investigation, the CHP found that a father and son who stayed at the same hotel between May 7 and 10, but on a different floor, had also contracted Omicron.

Genome sequencing showed they carried the same virus strain as the couple, officials said.

After inspecting the hotel with government officials, microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung said vertical transmission involving the air or sewage pipes at the hotel may be to blame.

However, Yuen said people need not be to worried about the likelihood of another major outbreak in the community, as the vaccination rate in Hong Kong is already quite high.

"The immunity barrier to prevent serious cases has been established in Hong Kong. At this stage, we don't think the BA.2.12.1 will create a big outbreak in Hong Kong. But it's fine to have smaller scale outbreaks as long as the number of serious cases won't overburden our public hospitals," he said.

Authorities reported 243 new Covid infections for the day, including 26 that were imported. There were also four new deaths.

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BA.2.12.1 Omicron found in community: CHP