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Kwai Chung lockdown to last 5 days as ‘superspreader’ infects 20 people

21 January 2022

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Secretary Chan said the Kwai Chung outbreak was caused by a 'superspreader'

Hong Kong’s health authorities have ordered a five-day complete lockdown of Yat Kwai house in Kwai Chung estate as it emerged that a so-called “superspreader” had infected at least 20 other residents, staff and visitors at the building.

Secretary for Health Prof. Sophia Chan made the announcement as the first day of the lockdown began at 6pm today, Jan 21.

“The government takes a serious view of this incident and will take action,” said Prof. Chan. “We must take swift action so we can return to normal as soon as possible.”


Prof Chan said that during the lockdown which will last until Wednesday morning, all 2,700 residents of the building will not be allowed to leave, and will be required to undergo daily testing. All meals will be brought to them by staff of the Housing Authority.

She said at least 20 cases have been linked to the outbreak at Yat Kwai House, which she described as worrying.

At the regular press briefing by the Centre for Health Protection earlier, six confirmed cases were linked to the housing block. This was on top of the three confirmed cases reported on Wednesday and Thursday.

Pindutin para sa detalye

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan who conducted the briefing said there were more than 20 preliminary positive cases, and about 10 of them are also connected to the Yat Kwai outbreak.

Health experts who conducted a site visit at the estate Thursday night only recommended a three-day overnight lockdowns, with residents who test negative on the daily tests being allowed to leave the building for work or other purposes.

But as more cases linked to the building emerged, health officials decided to extend the lockdown and ensure all residents are kept in for five days when they estimate all those who had been infected with the virus would be detected.

Pindutin para sa detalye

CHP controller Dr Edwin Tsui said the outbreak started when the husband of a woman who was infected during her 21-day quarantine at Silka Seaview Hotel in Yau Ma Tei went to collect salvageable items from the garbage dump at Yat Kwai and two other buildings in the estate on Jan. 13.

“At the collection station he got in touch with the cleaner and passed the virus on to her,” Tsui said. The cleaner in turn passed it on to residents as she collected their garbage or said hello to them in the hallways.

Tsui said the cleaner would have been most infectious between Jan 16 to 18, and those who were infected by her would have incubated the virus in three to six days.


“(So) within these five days we hope to catch all those infected,” he said.

The officials explained that moving all the residents to a quarantine center was not necessary as the virus did not spread through the sewage pipes or air ventilation system as what happens when the so-called “vertical transmission” occurs.

“This is not a building structure issue so there is no need to move residents to a quarantine center,” said Chan.

She appealed to residents who were still out when the lockdown began this evening to “go home normally” and not go elsewhere, and assured them that the Housing Authority will provide them support, from the daily testing to providing them with meals for the next five days.

She hoped things could return to normal for the residents before the Lunar New Year holidays.

Yat Kwai residents do some shopping before the lockdown (RTHK photo)

She also urged those living in high risk areas in Aberdeen and Sham Shui Po to get tested, and for everyone who has not received Covid-19 vaccine to get jabbed as soon as possible.

At the CHP briefing, Dr Chuang listed among the preliminary cases a cleaner at Yat Kwai who lives in the neighboring Ying Kwai House in the same estate.

A two-year-old child who lives on the same floor as the cleaner in Ying Kwai House has also tested preliminary positive, as well as a security guard at Yat Kwai.


No information was made available as to whether the cleaner was vaccinated, but the Pakistani peddler who passed on the virus to her was not vaccinated.

Of the six confirmed cases today that were linked to the outbreak, four had no record of having received vaccination.

Chuang reported 6 confirmed cases in Kwai Chung, and 5 related to the hamster infections

Chuang said a total of 24 cases were detected as of midnight Thursday, and 18 were local cases. Sixteen were linked to other local cases, while the sources of infection of the two others were unknown.

The untraceable cases pertained to a 24-year-old assistant social worker who lives in Cheung Sha Wan and works in Kwai Chung, and a 37-year-old female salesperson in Kwun Tong who lives in Tsuen Wan.

Five of the confirmed local cases were connected to the outbreak of the Delta variant in pet shops which prompted a cull of about 2,000 small animals on Tuesday.

Two had bought hamsters from the Little Boss pet shops in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, where 11 of the animals were found to carry the L452R mutant strain linked to Delta.

Two others were family members of a customer of the Causeway Bay pet shop who was infected earlier. They also bought something from the shop.

The last infected person had a meal at Dragon Palace Restaurant in Aberdeen at about the same time as the husband of the pet shop customer. Chuang said the two sat far apart, but both remembered going to the men’s toilet during that time, so it’s believed the infection happened there.
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