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Ramada hotels checked after first local Covid-19 case with variant found

17 April 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap

No new case was found after Parkes building was locked down (RTHK photo)

Hong Kong health officials have ordered more than 80 residents of a building in Jordan to be moved to a quarantine centre after a man who had stayed there was found to carry the highly infectious coronavirus variant, N501Y. 

Health officials also said at a press briefing earlier today, Apr 17, that they have begun investigating the Ramada chain of hotels, particularly the one in Tsim Sha Tsui where the infected patient had spent his 21-day quarantine after flying in from Dubai on Mar 19.

The patient, a 29-year-old Indian national who holds a Hong Kong ID card, was one of 18 new Covid-19 cases reported today. Ten of the cases are imported and 8 were locally acquired, six of them with unknown sources.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, who heads the infectious disease unit of the Centre for Health Protection, said the man’s case is worrying as it raises the possibility that he acquired the still-unclassified variant from the community.


She said the man tested negative for the virus at the airport after his arrival, and to two tests given to him on his 12th and 19th day in quarantine at Ramada Grand in TST.

After his release from quarantine, the man moved to a friend’s flat in Parkes Building in Jordan. He strolled around the area, went to eat at Chung King Mansion in Tsim Sha Tsui, visited two bank branches, and even went with friends to Cheung Chau where they had a meal together on Apr 4. He was asymptomatic.

Pindutin para sa detalye

It was only because he was planning to return to Dubai that he had himself tested for Covid-19 at a community testing centre on Apr 14, and was found infected.

“Yesterday, we discovered he was carrying the variant strain,” said Chuang.

Pindutin para sa detalye

What worries health experts more is that the patient was found to have a heavy viral load, with a CT value of between 15 and 17, suggesting a recent infection.

Chuang said CHP is studying three possibilities for the cause of his infection. First, that he was infected in Dubai, but the virus took long to incubate; second, that the tests failed to detect his infection; and third and most worryingly, that he acquired the virus and the variant in the community.

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The CHP official said the third possibility is worrying because it means the source of the variant is undetected as well. The patient could have been infected on the plane, at the airport, or at the hotel during quarantine.

“So this is worrying, especially the third possibility,” she said. “But we are still investigating.”


CHP controller Dr Ronald Lam disclosed that the investigation of the case has included a check on whether “there has been a lapse in infection control at the Ramada Hotel” or whether some environmental factors were involved.

An angle being considered is if the infection occurred during the patient's quarantine 

But Lam said an initial check of the room where the patient had stayed did not show any irregularity in the ventilation or in the drainage system.

“We will conduct the same investigation at other Ramada hotels,” he said, when asked about a series of cases involving travelers who had tested positive for both the coronavirus and the variant after spending their quarantine at one of the branches of the hotel chain.

Of particular concern is a case of three patients who quarantined at Ramada Grand View in North Point before being found infected. The three patients, involving a couple who arrived from Canada and a Filipina who stayed across them in a room on the same floor, were found to have the same genetic sequencing, suggesting they acquired the virus from the same source.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong 

Chuang said health experts had repeatedly checked the CCTV of the hotel to find any possible interaction among the three, but discovered they had all stayed in their respective rooms during the quarantine period. All three consistently maintained as well during interviews that they never left their quarantine.

The Hong Kong University is now said to be looking into dozens of Covid-19 cases that had been detected in the said hotels to find out if there was a possibility that cross infection had occurred.

As soon as the Indian patient was found to carry the variant, health officials locked down Parkes building starting on Friday night and early Saturday morning to test all residents there. But not a single new infection was found during the ambush lockdown.

Not content with this, authorities later ordered about 81 asymptomatic residents in the building to move to quarantine centers, including the infected patient’s friend with whom he lived after his quarantine. Anybody with symptoms was sent to hospital for isolation.

On top of this, a compulsory testing notice was issued for anyone who had stayed in the building for at least two hours between Apr 9 and 16. All those covered by the order must get themselves tested by tomorrow, Apr 18.

The same compulsory testing order was issued to all current residents of Ramada Grand, as well as those who had stayed there at the same time as the infected patient.

In the meantime, investigations are continuing into the places the patient had been to before he was found to have the virus.

Lam said that as a final measure to stop the spread of the virus and its highly transmissible mutations, all residents must get themselves vaccinated.

“Given the resurgence in cases, we ask you all to get vaccinated so we develop a community barrier, or herd immunity,” he said.

He cited as an example the significant drop in infections in Israel, after a large percentage of its population was inoculated against the coronavirus.


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