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Third member of Tin Shui Wai family found with UK variant

07 June 2021

By The SUN 

A microbiologist says a recent arrival must have passed on the UK variant to the 3 patients

A microbiologist has called on the government to re-test people who arrived in Hong Kong from high-risk places in the past month, to see if any of them is carrying the N501Y variant, and has spread it to three members of a family in Tin Shui Wai.

Ho Pak-leung from the University of Hong Kong made the call as a 20-year-old member of the family became the latest to test positive for the Alpha variant of the coronavirus which was first found in the United Kingdom.

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Her younger sister and mother had both tested positive for the mutated strain earlier, and the source of their infection is unknown. It is the first time the variant was found locally.

Ho said in an interview with RTHK that he believes the family was infected by someone who had just arrived from overseas and whose infection was not detected during the quarantine period.


“What can be done now is to contact people who arrived in the past 3 to 4 weeks from places categorized as high risk and have left their quarantine hotels. Authorities should trace their contacts, and conduct both antibody tests – which are currently not being done now- as well as nucleic acid tests,” he said.

The antibody tests would show whether a person had previously been infected with Covid-19. Ho said this test should now be done on each traveler on their arrival at the airport, and shortly before the end of their hotel quarantine.


A statement from the Centre for Health Protection said the latest patient in the cluster was sent to a quarantine center after her 17-year-old sister tested positive on Jun 4.

On the same day, the patient developed a cough, runny nose and diarrhea and was admitted to hospital the next day. Her test result showed she had the N501Y variant, but did not carry the L452R or E484K mutant genes first found in other countries.

Both sisters and their mother did not get themselves vaccinated against Covid-19.

Nina Mall in Tsuen Wan is among those put under compulsory testing after a visit by the latest patient

A compulsory testing order on 12 places visited by the latest patient has already been issued by the CHP, on top of several other venues where her sister and mother had been.

Meanwhile, six imported cases were again reported today, including four new arrivals from Indonesia, three of them foreign domestic helpers.

The only non-FDH is a 29-year-old man who arrived on Jun 5 aboard Cathay Pacific fight CX 798 and was found to carry the L452R variant of the coronavirus.

Two of the female helpers, aged 35 and 36, flew in on Jun 6 aboard CX 798 and tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival at Hong Kong Airport. Neither had the mutated strain.


The third, who is 22 years old, arrived on May 30 aboard the virus-plagued Garuda Airlines flight GA 876, and tested positive for Covid-19 while in a quarantine center. Her specimen sample is said to be too low to determine if she carries the mutated strain of the virus.

Garuda has been suspended from flying to Hong Kong since Jun 1, after three of its passengers from Indonesia who were all FDHs, were found to carry the variant on arrival at the airport.

A fourth subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, so the latest infected passenger is the fifth from that flight.

The fifth imported case is a 25-year-old female returnee from the United Arab Emirates, who arrived on Jun 5 aboard Emirates flight EK 389. The result of her test for the presence of a coronavirus variant is still pending.

Rounding up the six imported cases is a 17-year-old female who flew in from the United States on Jun 3 aboard Korean Air flight Ka 7607. She tested positive for Covid-19 while in hotel quarantine, but negative for the mutant strain.

Hong Kong’s total coronavirus tally is now 11,865 with the addition of the latest cases.

A total of 33 cases have now been reported in the past 15 days, including the three local cases with the Alpha variant whose source is unknown.



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