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Experts say Filipina DH got mutated virus from Indian returnee

02 May 2021

By The SUN 

Yuen says the variant has already spread in the community so urgent action is needed 

Government health experts say the Indian returnee from Dubai who lived in Jordan after ending his 21-day quarantine must have spread the coronavirus variant to a Filipina domestic helper in Tung Chung, who was found infected on Friday.

Microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung from the University of Hong Kong and David Hui from Chinese University, both said Saturday, May 1, that researchers showed the two patients carried an identical genomic sequence of the variant first found in South Africa.


Yuen said in an interview on RTHK that this meant that the variant strain which is believed to be more infectious, has already spread in the community, and that urgent action is needed to stop it.

Hui, citing findings made by Polytechnic University researchers, said it was likely the Indian man who moved around Hong Kong after ending his 21-day hotel quarantine in Tsim Sha Tsui had sparked off a silent transmission in the community.

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“He mainly infected his friends in Jordan and indirectly he probably infected the foreign domestic helper,” he said.

Hui said stepping up testing is the best way to avert the further spread of the mutated virus.


But Yuen was more concerned, saying the government should conduct antibody tests on those who recently left quarantine hotels, as there were indications that the virus had spread in at least two Ramada hotels.

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Ramada Grand in Tsim Sha Tsui was where the Dubai returnee had spent his quarantine, while Ramada Harbour View in Sai Ying Pun was where a Filipina domestic worker who also tested positive for the South African variant after quarantine, had stayed.

Yuen said the variant could have spread either at the airport or the quarantine hotels, or problems with sampling and testing procedures had led to false negative findings.

He urged for random retesting of samples from recent arrivals from abroad, and field auditing for private laboratories.

Hui says mass testing should be stepped up, but Yuen says contact tracing is key

For him, mass testing, as was recently required for all of Hong Kong’s 370,000 FDHs, cannot replace painstaking contact tracing work to discover how the virus transmission started.


Meanwhile, eight new Covid-19 cases were reported Saturday, all of them recent arrivals from  overseas who had tested positive while in hotel quarantine.

Half came from Indonesia, two from India, and one each from the Philippines and Cambodia.

The additional cases brought Hong Kong’s total tally to 11,782.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love.

Another Covid-related death was reported on the same day, bringing the total number of fatalities from the disease to 203.

The 70-year-old female patient was admitted to Tuen Mun hospital on Apr 6 after a fall, and was confirmed infected during the admission screening. Her condition deteriorated while in isolation, and she passed away at 1:48pm on Saturday.

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