South African coronavirus variant detected in HK

Image title

The Centre for Health Protection in Kowloon City.

Hong Kong health authorities said Thursday they have detected a variant of the coronavirus from South Africa imported from a returnee.

The Centre for Health Protection said that the COVID-19 variant, known as 501Y.V2, was found in a male returnee aged 29, who returned from South Africa on Dec. 16.

He had arrived in the city with a 26-year-old female. She did not carry the coronavirus variant, Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan from the Centre for Health Protection said.

This comes as the city confirmed 68 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with six imported infections. One of them is a male returnee from the Philippines aged 49, while the other arrivals come from India, Germany, and the United States.

Chuang also said three buildings included in the mandatory testing order yesterday did not conform to the criteria: Hiu Sing House, Hiu Lai Court, Kwun Tong; On Lam House, Tsui Lam Estate, Tseung Kwan O; and Wah Yan House, Tsing Wah Court, Tsing Yi.

The CHP communicable disease branch head explained some residents have given the wrong residential information, which caused some of the errors.

“Some of the cases may be already in the hospital for quite some time instead of staying in the buildings,” Chuang said.

Three more buildings were added to the mandatory testing order: Oi Yan House, Tsz Oi Court; Tak Po Building, Sham Shui Po, and Ching Man House, Ho Man Tin Estate.

Security will also be tightened at hospitals after another patient who tested preliminarily positive for COVID-19 was able to escape isolation at the Eastern Hospital on Wednesday.

Dr. Sara Ho, a chief manager at the Hospital Authority, said the 87-year-old male patient was taken to the hospital from Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre after feeling unwell.

He had left the hospital at around 5 pm but was found around an hour later by hospital officials.

Thursday’s tally brings the total recorded cases of COVID-19 in the city to 8,847.