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Local Covid-19 cases spike as more unknown transmissions found

20 January 2022

By Daisy CL Mandap

At least 3 different clusters of infection have emerged in various districts

Fears that there are invisible transmissions of Covid-19 inside Hong Kong have intensified after 10 local or import-related local cases were reported by the Centre for Health Protection today, Jan 20, with nearly double this number testng preliminary positive.

A total of 14 confirmed cases were reported today, four of which were imported. It is the first time since the Omicron-fueled outbreak that started late last month that infections detected locally have outnumbered those brought in by travelers from overseas.

More than 20 preliminary positive cases were also detected, and according to CHP’s Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan at today’s press briefing, “quite a lot are local cases.”


Today’s confirmed cases include a 17-year-old male student at St Joseph’s Anglo-English College who carried the Delta variant of the coronavirus, and whose source of infection remains unknown.

Chuang said genome sequencing conducted by City University disproved the theory that his case was related to that of a salesgirl at the Little Boss pet shop in Causeway Bay, who was also found to carry the Delta variant.

The tests also revealed that the salesgirl’s genome sequence was different from that of the shop’s female customer and her husband, who also both tested positive for Covid-19 with Delta.

“At this point, it is possible that she (staff) did not directly transmit the illness to the customer. It is possible that the customer stayed in the environment where there was animals, or she has a hamster at home. So we don’t know which is the exact source of infection, but it is possible that animal to human transmission did occur,” Chuang said.

The theory was reinforced by two more people who visited pet shops testing preliminary positive for Covid-19. One bought a hamster from Little Boss while another bought pets from I Love Rabbit pet shop  in Mong Kok, which also sells hamsters.

Following the discovery, experts from CHP and the Animal and Fisheries Conservation Department visited 11 pet shops yesterday, and a sample they collected from a hamster cage in the I Love Rabbit branch in Yuen Long came back positive.


"This shows that there is a high risk of animal to human transmission,” said Chuang. “If there is transmission from animal to human the genome sequencing would be different.”

Genome sequencing also established a link between a kindergarten teacher who lives in Mei Foo and a Pakistani housewife who triggered off a large number of infections after leaving her quarantine hotel where studies showed she picked up the Omicron variant.

Chuang said contact tracing showed the teacher took the MTR at the same time as the Pakistani woman’s two sons. Close-circuit camera showed them taking the same MTR exit nine seconds apart, all with masks on.

However, the genetic identification of their infections was said to be the same.


Seven other confirmed cases today were also linked to this cluster. These include:

1)     a 58-year-old female teacher at Delia Memorial School (Broadway) in Mei Foo who was in the same room as a student who tested positive earlier

2)     a 14-year-old brother of one of the students at Delia who shared a room with the Pakistani woman’s son. The latest patient studies at David Li Kwok-Po College and lives in Caribbean Coast

3)     three family members, all males aged 11,14 and 16. The youngest visited the home of the student who lives in Caribbean Coast for a meal on Jan 15. One child studies at Lantau International School and the other at Buddhist Fat Ho Memorial School. A classmate of the latter is now preliminary positive

4)     A friend of the kindergarten teacher who works at K11 Musea in Tsuen Wan. She tested positive in a quarantine centre where she was taken after being identified as a close contact

5)     A friend of a friend of the kindergarten teacher

Two preliminary positive cases involving the parents of the kindergarten teacher who lives in Mei Foo have also been reported.

Covid-19 cases have been found in 7 flats in this building in Kwai Chung

A separate cluster has also been linked to an outbreak at Yat Kwai House in Kwai Chung, where the first resident to test positive was a 79-year-old man who was found infected during routine screening at Yan Chai Hospital.

The two new cases linked to the housing block are a forklift operator at the Cathay cargo terminal and a year-old baby who visited her grandmother on the seventh floor of Yat Kwai House.

Chuang said a couple of residents in the building have tested positive. Seven units on different floors are involved, and they do not all face the same direction. The affected floors are 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th, and 11th.

The test result on a person who lives on the 26th floor is inconclusive. Meanwhile, a resident on the 8th floor went to Shenzhen on Jan 18. CHP is looking into any possible connection.

A number of the preliminary positive cases have so far been classified as unlinked, including a 24-year-old assistant social worker who works in Kwai Chung and lives in Cheung Sha Wan, a 37-year-old saleslady in Kwun Tong and lives in Tsuen Wan, and an 82-year-old man who lives in Sham Shui Po and carried the L452R strain.

CHP has so far and found that he often had breakfast at Dragon Palace in Sham Shui Po where another infected patient often had lunch. Further studies are being carried out.

Chuang also said the Environmental Protection Department has tested sewage samples collected from different parts of Aberdeen and found positive results from some. As a result, a compulsory testing notice will be issued for residents living in 20 residential buildings in the area.

As of today, a total of 13,096 confirmed cases have been found in Hong Kong. Of these, 340 are still being treated in infection control centres run by the Health Department.

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