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3rd Delta plus carrier caught it from hotel neighbor, say experts

13 November 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap


The bus that took the hotel guests to Penny's Bay Quarantine Centre (RTHK)

About 50 people staying, or have stayed at Sheraton Hotel in Tung Chung early this month, were moved to a quarantine center Friday night, after it emerged that one of their fellow guests detected with the more infectious Delta plus variant appeared to have caught it from a next-door neighbor.

The Centre for Health Protection said the guests comprised around 30 who were still quarantining on the 15th floor of the hotel, and another 20 people who stayed on the same floor between Nov 1 and 6, but had already completed their quarantine.

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The move was taken after genome sequencing on case no 12382 showed the patient to have the same genetic sequence as that of case no 12374, who stayed in an adjacent room on the 15th floor of the hotel. Both carried the Delta sub-strain AY.4.2, commonly known as Delta plus, which has been largely tracked to people in the United Kingdom.

The latter case involved a 62-year-old man from Thailand who checked in at the hotel on Oct 22, and tested negative in all of the five tests conducted on him while in quarantine (Oct 24 26 and 30, and Nov 2 and 6).


However, his specimen taken on Nov 9 tested positive for the Delta plus strain, with a low Ct value of about 17, indicating a heavy viral load. He was sent to hospital on Nov. 10.

Investigations showed his sample to have the same genetic sequencing as that of a 56-year-old man who checked in at the hotel on Nov 1 after arriving from the U.K. A sample taken from him on Nov 5 tested positive for the Delta plus strain, and he was sent to hospital the next day.

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The younger man, in turn, was revealed to have sat close to the first man found to have carried the highly infectious variant into Hong Kong, and tested positive on arrival. The two men flew on first class of BA027 which arrived in Hong Kong from London on Nov. 1.

Yuen says the first patient must have exhaled virus into the air while using an exercise bike

An infectious disease expert who inspected the hotel Friday told reporters that the contamination might have occurred when case 12374 exhaled a lot of virus-laden air while using a cycling machine. This contaminated air then flew into the adjacent room when case 12382 opened the door.


Yuen Kwok-yung said he has asked the hotel to retrain staff who are responsible for disinfecting the corridors, and to provide air purifiers for rooms with cycling or jogging machines. Those who are in hotel quarantine must always wear masks when they open their doors, he said.

Yuen was with a group of experts from CHP and other relevant government departments which made the on-site visit to investigate if environmental factors were involved in the infections.


After the inspection, the CHP said it arranged for hotel guests who had stayed on the 15th floor of the hotel’s north wing from Nov 1 to 6 to undergo compulsory quarantine at Penny’s Bay.

Its investigation into the cases is ongoing.

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