Local S. African variant case likely infected through hotel’s food hooks, CHP says

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Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan from the Centre for Health Protection (SCREENSHOT: Information Services Department/isd.gov.hk)

Health authorities on Tuesday said a hook used to hang food for quarantined individuals in a hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui may have likely caused the transmission of a variant of the coronavirus to three people who stayed there.

The Centre for Health Protection also confirmed the infection of an Indonesian domestic worker, who stayed at the Ramada Hong Kong Grand Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui when the first local Covid-19 case with a South African variant was under quarantine.

Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan said they have tested the hooks for Covid-19 and all tested negative. Authorities also looked into the drainage pipes and ventilation but found no signs of environmental contamination.

Hotels were told to stop using the hooks for food deliveries after the findings.

Two other quarantined persons—a domestic worker from the Philippines and an arrival from Indonesia—were on the same floor as the man with the variant. All three were found carrying similar strains of the virus.

Chuang also ruled out the likelihood that the 31-year-old woman the Indian man stayed with was the source of the South African variant, as her infection was deemed new based on her CT values.

Since January, 10 infections have been detected in that Ramada hotel. Authorities will look into whether these infections were linked, Chuang said.

The 29-year-old Indonesian worker stayed on a different floor from the Indian man with the variant. She is one of the eight confirmed Covid-19 cases on Tuesday.

She stayed at the hotel from Mar. 20 to Apr. 9, and lived in Yung Lai House in Yau Tong Estate with her employer. Her infection was netted after those quarantined with the local variant case were ordered to undergo compulsory testing, but it is not yet known what virus strain she has.

The three imported cases include a Filipina who arrived on Apr. 6 and two children from India who were onboard separate flights.

Two of the Covid-19 cases involved returnees from mainland China on Apr. 6. One returned to Hong Kong from Dongguan through the government’s Return2HK scheme and was staying in Tsuen Wan.

The other returnee from the mainland is a 56-year-old woman from Fujian who has been observing home quarantine in Tsuen Wan. Her case was not yet classified as local or imported because she stayed in a subdivided unit with some family members who went in and out of the house.

Another local case from Tsuen Wan was confirmed: a 57-year-old woman who lives in Belvedere Garden.

A construction worker who resides in Tai Wai was also confirmed to have the virus.

Hong Kong has recorded a total of 11,704 Covid-19 cases to date. No preliminary positive cases were reported.