Hong Kong recorded six Covid-19 cases on Monday, including three locally-transmitted cases connected to an outbreak at a Lantau hotel. The others were imported infections.

The cluster is related to a staycation weekend spent at Mui Wo’s Seaview Beach Resort at Silvermine Bay, according to the Centre for Heath Protection (CHP). The government is now following up with three potential infection chains in an effort to thwart a further outbreak.

Silvermine Bay Seaview Beach Resort
Photo: Seaview Beach Resort website.

The first individual who showed an onset of symptoms was a 26-year-old woman who stayed at the hotel between October 25 and 27 with seven others. A man from the same group – employed at iCable TV’s engineering department – was also infected. The group stayed in three separate rooms, barbecued together and visited nearby restaurants, Apple Daily reported.

The man had been out of the office over the past week. He had begun to experience a sore throat last Friday, but was sharing a hotpot dinner with at least ten others when the CHP got in touch with him. All contacts are being placed in quarantine.

The Silvermine Bay hotel evacuated all guests on Monday – four cleaners who handled the infected guests’ rooms are to be be quarantined, Ming Pao reported.

After leaving Mui Wo, the 26-year-old woman, whose source of infection is unknown, shared dinner with a 15-year-old relative the same day. The teenager was also confirmed positive with Covid-19 on Sunday. In the following days, during the transmission period, he played basketball with a dozen schoolmates without wearing a mask and returned to school for classes. The teenager then visited graves with family members on Saturday, the day he began to experience symptoms. The CHP recommended that the school suspend classes for two weeks, and said it will arrange testing for its students in the coming days. Over 30 close contacts related to this cluster will be placed in quarantine.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said during a radio interview on Monday that the situation was “concerning.” As many Hongkongers were out celebrating during Halloween weekend without observing social distancing rules, the government may consider reverting to tougher restrictions.

mong kok police station
File Photo: Wikipedia.

Another individual confirmed positive on Sunday was a 42-year-old woman from mainland China. She had visited the Ma Tau Kok detention centre, Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre, and stayed in Mong Kok Police Station between last Wednesday and Friday, according to the CHP.

The woman was arrested on suspicion of illegal immigration during a police undercover operation and raid against sex workers at a Mong Kok hotel, HK01 reported. She was in contact with 23 police officers – four of them were considered close contacts and will be sent to a quarantine camp.

Contact tracing app

Meanwhile, the government is expecting to launch a contact tracing app called “Leave Home Safe” in the coming weeks. Developed by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, the app will allow users to voluntarily scan QR codes provided by premises to record locations they visited.

Photo: FEHD Website.

The government said the app will not collect personal data, nor send data to central servers as it will be stored on mobile devices, the Hong Kong Economic Times reported. The app will send out notifications if locations visited overlap with those where Covid-19 cases are recorded. Should a user become infected, they may provide data to the CHP for contact tracing purposes. The app user may also choose to enter their contact information.

QR codes for the app will be displayed at over 200 government sports venues, wet markets and cooked food centres in the pilot scheme. Restaurants and other venue operators may be issued with a QR code if they submit an application.

In total, Hong Kong has seen 5,337 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 105 deaths.

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.