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North Pt block evacuated after 3 residents test positive for Covid-19

12 January 2022

By Daisy CL Mandap 

14 flats in Maple Garden Phase 3 were taken to a quarantine centre this evening

Dozens of residents of a North Point building were evacuated tonight, Jan 12, amid fears of a vertical transmission of Covid-19 after three people living in flats facing the same direction have been found infected.

Residents in 14 households of block B, Maple Gardens Phase Three on Kin Wah street in North Point were picked up by health staff in full PPE just before 6pm and herded onto mini buses with a number of police officers keeping media people and other onlookers at bay.

They were taken to a government quarantine centre where they will stay for 14 days and tested regularly to ensure they were not infected. If they test positive, they will be transferred to a hospital.


A 48-year-old man who lives in the building and worked at investment bank Citic Securities in nearby Olympia Plaza was on Tuesday confirmed as infected, triggering an overnight lockdown of the block.

However, no one was found infected during the lockdown which ended on Wednesday morning, where a total of 103 people, including 75 residents, were tested.

Today’s two preliminary positive cases were not among those tested, his 83-year-old mother and 32-year-old male neighbor


The infected man’s mother was taken to a quarantine center after he was listed as a close contact of an infected colleague. She lives in flat 6B of the housing block.

The second patient who is a carpenter, went to Queen Mary Hospital for a check-up after developing symptoms on Sunday. He lives in flat 9B, three floors above the mother and son.

Both patients were vaccinated but were found to carry a heavy viral load.

A scaffolding covers the block, which could allow the virus to build up inside

Health experts visited the building on Wednesday morning after noting that the two preliminary positive cases live in flats that were on separate floors but faced the same direction.

After inspecting the building, microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung said, “We agree that there was a vertical transmission from flats 6B to 9B.”

“The owner of unit 9B never poured water into the floor drain in his bathroom, and so the U-trap dried out.”


Yuen said virus-infected air from the lower floors could go up the building via the so-called chimney effect, and enter flats where the U-trap has dried out.

He noted that because the building’s external wall was being fixed, the younger man kept his windows closed and turned on the exhaust fan when in the bathroom, allowing air from the dry sewage pipe to easily enter the flat.

Keeping windows shut results in the virus accumulating inside the building, leading to high viral loads, said the expert.


This is the second incidence of the virus being transmitted vertically in a building since the fifth wave of infections fueled by the highly infectious Omicron variant has swept through Hong Kong in late December.

Vertical transmission also happened in Mei Sun building, officials say

On Sunday, people living in 19 flats in Mei Sun Building in Tai Po, were evacuated for the same reason. A 66-year-old woman who lived five floors above three members of a family who were earlier confirmed to have the coronavirus also tested positive.

At today’s press briefing, Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan from the Centre for Health Protection said the full genome sequencing results from the infections showed vertical transmission had indeed occurred in the building.

“So the infection was possibly caused by a traveler from overseas,” she said.

Press for details

The first to test positive in the residential block was an Indonesian domestic helper who caught the virus during church services in Tin Hau. Another Indonesian worker who was infected by the mother of a Cathay flight attendant had passed on the coronavirus to her and another worker during the services on Jan 1 and 2.

The unvaccinated 62-year-old woman who was a member of a dance club that met regularly at Victoria Park was found to have directly infected eight other people, and sparked fifth-generation infections.

She was also the link to the first resident at Maple Gardens who was found infected. His colleague had eaten at a restaurant in Tin Hau at the same time as the elderly woman.


Another import-related cluster was traced to a Cathay male aircrew who had lunch with two family members in a Kowloon Tong restaurant, in violation of his home isolation restrictions.

A total of 46 cases have since been traced from the two air crew who flew in from the United States on Dec 25 and 27, respectively.
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