Hundreds of residents in two buildings were sent to quarantine on Monday evening and Tuesday after a pregnant woman from India and a Filipino domestic worker were found infected with the N501Y Covid variant.
The 28-year-old pregnant woman arrived from India on April 4 and spent three weeks at Regal Oriental Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui for quarantine, according to the Center for Health Protection.
On April 25, she returned to her residence at Beauty Mansion, 69-71A Kimberley Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. She sought medical advice at Queen Elizabeth Hospital on April 26 and tested negative.
Last Friday, she underwent a virus test at a community testing center but the result was indeterminate. She was sent to hospital on Sunday and tested positive preliminarily for N501Y variant and positive for Covid antibodies on Monday. She was listed as an imported case.
David Hui Shu-cheong, chairman of the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the patient had been infected for at least 10 days as she had the antibodies.
Hui said the authorities should contact everyone who was quarantined at the same hotel with the woman at the same time, and test them again to make sure there was no cross infection.
Another confirmed case involved a 48-year-old domestic worker who arrived in Hong Kong on March 31. She had stayed at the Dorsett Wanchai hotel until April 21 and visited the eighth floor of the Immigration Tower in Wan Chai and a clinic in Causeway Bay. She had tested negative for Covid for the fifth time before moving into her employers’ home at Block R, Allway Gardens in Tsuen Wan.
She underwent a Covid test again last Sunday after the Hong Kong government ordered all 370,000 foreign domestic workers in the city to get tested by May 9. She tested positive with the N501Y variant. It was categorized as a local case.
In the past couple of weeks, the helper had taken her employer’s child to the Annunciation Catholic Kindergarten, the Wellcome supermarket in Allway Gardens, the D Park mall, as well as music centers in the estate and at Kwai Chung’s Metroplaza. People who went to these places at the same time as the helper will be subject to mandatory tests.
As of Tuesday, all residents at Beauty Mansion and Block R of Allway Gardens have been sent to quarantine for 21 days.
Tung Chung case
Apart from these two cases, two more people arriving from Indonesia also tested positive on Monday. Meanwhile, fewer than 10 people tested positive preliminarily on Tuesday. They included the female employer of an infected Filipino maid who lived in Tung Chung.
Health officials had recently found out that this domestic worker could have been infected directly by an Indian engineer who arrived from Dubai as they both had visited the Citygate mall on April 11.
The Center for Health Protection issued mandatory testing notices for people who on April 11 visited a shopping mall and a restaurant in Tung Chung – namely Citygate Outlets and Curry Lounge.
Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable diseases branch at the Centre for Health Protection, said it was reasonable for a patient to forget his itinerary several weeks earlier. Chuang said health officials had tried different methods to help patients recall their movements.
Two Filipino domestic workers tested positive preliminarily on Tuesday. Genomic sequencing will be done to see whether they involve mutations.
One of the infected helpers was living with her employers in an apartment at Block N2, Kornhill in Taikoo. She was listed as a local case because she has stayed in Hong Kong since 2019. During her incubation period, she visited the Quarry Bay Market. She met her friends in Central on April 25 and at Victoria Park near the Tin Hau station on May 1. She dined at Saizeriya Italian Restaurant in Dragon Centre in Sham Shui Po last Sunday.
Her friend, also a domestic worker, resided at Royalton in Pok Fu Lam and had visited the Smithfield market in Kennedy Town.
After the Hong Kong government announced last Friday its plan to require all foreign domestic workers to be vaccinated against coronavirus before they could renew their working visas, both the Philippine and Indonesian government have raised concerns whether such measure would be discriminatory to their people.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that the government had not made up its mind on the measure. Lam said she had urged the Labor and Welfare Bureau to review the plan’s justifications and its feasibility and consult the consuls-general of embassies of foreign domestic workers’ home countries about it.
However, Lam added that the mandatory test scheme for all the 370,000 domestic workers in Hong Kong was not discriminatory as two of the four cases of Covid variants involved domestic workers.
“In addition, foreign domestic workers do have a habit of attending gatherings at weekends, and their work involves close contact with and taking care of young children and elderly people, so proper measures have to be taken considering our risk assessment,” Lam said, adding that tens of thousands of care home workers were also required to get tested every two weeks.