Two foreign domestic workers who stayed at a boarding house at Fung Nin Building in Tai Po over the past weekend were found to be infected with the coronavirus on Sunday.
They were identified as the No.7595 and No.7605 patients in Hong Kong, according to the Center for Health Protection. Their employers were living in Hung Hom and Tai Po.
Health officials were tracing the sources of the virus in the boarding house and checking how many people had stayed or visited the facility.
Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable diseases branch at the Center for Health Protection, said some other domestic workers tested positive preliminarily there but details were not yet available.
The Center for Health Protection said 82 cases, five imported and 77 local, were recorded on Sunday. Of the local patients, 37 had no known source.
Two cases were linked to the “dance club cluster,” which increased to 720 patients as of Sunday.
One more patient was added to a “construction site cluster” in Lohas Park, which has grown to 62 patients. The cluster at the Tseung Kwan O – Lam Tin Tunnel grew to 12 after one more case was recorded.
In the Yata Department Store in Shatin, one more case was identified. The cluster has grown to 15 patients. The cluster at AsiaWorld-Expo increased to 23 cases after two more medical staff were identified as infected.
On Monday, about 60 people tested positive preliminarily, according to the Center for Health Protection.
Following the recent outbreaks at the Kwai Shing West Estate in Kwai Chung and the Richland Gardens in Kowloon Bay, health officials on Monday raised the alert over an outbreak at the Kwai Tung House in Tung Tau Estate in Wong Tai Sin.
Two more residents of Kwai Tung House have come down with the disease, taking the number of residents infected there to nine. The patients lived in six different units while three of the affected units, on different floors, face the same direction.
Chuang said she was worried the virus was transmitted through pipes and drainage at the housing block. She said experts from the Housing Department were being sent to check the pipes at Kwai Tung House given the proximity of some of the affected flats.
On Saturday evening, a 42-year-old woman, who was previously in good health, died of Covid-19 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The woman developed a fever, cough and shortness of breath on December 4. Her condition was serious when she sought treatment at the emergency department on November 6, and was put on a ventilator immediately.
This case showed that young people should not presume their symptoms would be mild if they were infected, said Sara Ho, chief manager of the Hospital Authority.
“We always emphasise it’s not equivalent that you’re young and you will not develop complications. That’s why we emphasise a lot of times we need to be vigilant,” Ho said.
“This is also observed in other overseas experience. Some relatively young infected people, even if they didn’t have any chronic disease, also died in either Italy or the UK. It’s not common but it’s not that rare.”
Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan also called on members of the public to remain vigilant about Covid-19 next year, saying people should not be complacent and expect the availability of vaccines to solve all problems.
The effectiveness of the vaccination program remained to be seen, with society’s acceptance level of the jabs being a crucial factor, Chan wrote in his weekly blog on Sunday. It would take a considerable time for the majority of the population to be vaccinated.
Last Friday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that a million Covid jabs manufactured by Sinovac Biotech, a mainland drugmaker – the first of the more than 15 million secured – could arrive in Hong Kong next month. Another batch, co-developed by Pfizer and BioNTech in collaboration with China’s Fosun Pharmaceutical, will arrive in the city during the first quarter. Health officials said on Saturday that the BioNTech vaccines would be manufactured in Europe.
The Hong Kong government said it would soon reach a deal to buy 7.5 million doses of a vaccine co-developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
“How I can convince the people of Hong Kong that if it is a mainland vaccine, it is safe for use? My response is do not get involved in politics. Look at it in a totally depoliticized perspective,” Lam said. “This is about science, this is about evidence, the experts will look at it.”
There were four types of Covid-19 vaccines, including the inactivated (or whole virus), nucleic acid, viral vector and protein subunit vaccines, David Hui Shu-cheong, chairman of the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, said.
Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine, namely CoronaVac, contained inactivated or killed virus and had an immunization rate of over 90%, Hui said, adding that the phase 3 clinical trial report would be released within weeks.
BioNTech’s one, called BNT162b2, was a mRNA (nucleic acid) vaccine with an immunisation rate of 95%, Hui said. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is a chimpanzee adenovirus-vectored vaccine with an immunisation rate of 90%, he said.
In general, a person has to receive a second dose of vaccines 14 or 28 days after the first dose to generate enough antibodies and become immune from the virus.