Some 100 people quarantined after girl, 17, found with UK variant

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Authorities placed Shing Yu House in Tin Shui Wai under an overnight testing lockdown after a girl who lived there tested positive for a coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom. (SOURCE: Information Services Department/isd.gov.hk)

About 100 close contacts of a 17-year-old girl were sent to quarantine centres after she was found infected with a coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom.

The Centre for Health Protection confirmed her infection on Saturday, ending Hong Kong’s 42-day streak without any local untraceable cases.

CHP Controller Dr. Ronald Lam highlighted the seriousness of her infection, adding that all of her close contacts will be quarantined for 21 days since she was not vaccinated against Covid-19.

Lam also urged everyone to get inoculated as soon as possible, citing that both vaccines from BioNTech and Sinovac are proven effective against the SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Local media earlier reported that researchers from the Polytechnic University found that the teenager carried the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 coronavirus strain, or what the WHO calls the Alpha variant.

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This variant is different from the South African strain or the Beta variant which was detected last April in a returnee from Dubai and his close contacts.

Some 850 occupants of Ting Shing Court’s Shing Yu, where the teenage girl lives, were tested for Covid-19 in an ambush lockdown overnight. No resident was found positive so far, but these residents will be screened for coronavirus infections in further tests.

Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan, CHP’s communicable disease branch head, said the girl’s mother also tested preliminarily positive for the virus. She was found negative for Covid-19 in several tests before.

The girl studies at Queen Elizabeth School Old Students’ Association Tong Kwok Wah Secondary School. She last went there on June 2, when she developed a sore throat and a cough.

Three days prior, she and her mother went to the Hong Kong International Education Expo at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. Authorities ordered about 4,000 attendees of that event to get tested.

She had also gone to a tutorial centre in Tak Ming Industrial Building on May 23 and 30.

Her mother also went to several places in Kowloon and the New Territories. All of these places will be issued compulsory testing notices, according to Chuang.

Chuang added that health authorities are worried since the girl and her mother had gone to several places while they were infectious.

“We will quarantine even those who are not considered as close contacts before,” Chuang said.

Hong Kong has recorded 11,852 coronavirus cases to date.

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