A preliminary positive case reported on Tuesday may be the first “silent” local Covid-19 transmission in months, as health authorities have been unable to trace its source and suspect the patient carries the highly infectious Omicron variant.
The Department of Health said the unvaccinated 42-year-old surveyor had not visited Festival Walk shopping mall or the Moon Palace restaurant, where the first local transmission of Omicron occurred. Health authorities have not found the case to be a close contact of known positive cases, nor has he any recent travel history.
The patient’s residence at Tsui Ning Garden,Tuen Mun, was put under lockdown on Tuesday night and 985 residents were tested overnight. All were reported to be negative.
Meanwhile, experts are also concerned about a potential new cluster, as two new locally transmitted cases have emerged linked to a Cathay Pacific flight attendant who was previously confirmed with the Omicron infection.
A 48-year-old woman tested preliminary positive on Tuesday after dancing with a 62-year-old family member of the Cathay employee in a group of some 20 people in Victoria Park and at the Causeway Bay Community Centre on New Year’s Eve. The 62-year-old tested positive later on Sunday.
Another preliminary-positive case was a 43-year-old domestic worker who works for a close-contact of the 62-year-old.
Health authorities imposed two separate overnight lockdowns at Causeway Tower and at Chesterfield Mansion in Causeway Bay in response to the two new cases; no further positive cases were found.
Gabriel Leung, Dean of the medicine faculty at the University of Hong Kong, said on RTHK on Wednesday morning that he estimated there were already five to 10 silent transmission links in the community.
He said the emergence of untraceable cases causes “great alarm” and the government should tighten social distancing measures within 24 hours.
The city has not ramped up its social distancing measures since a local Omicron cluster first emerged last Monday.
Earlier on Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Hong Kong was “not in a position yet to further tighten social distancing measures,” as all cases detected then could still be traced back to imported infections.
Cruise ship ordered back
A cruise ship with about 2,500 passengers and 1,200 staff was called back on Tuesday night as nine close contacts of the potential Omicron cluster were on board.
They were the employer of the 43-year-old patient and eight other friends of the 62-year-old positive case, who had danced together on New Year’s Eve.
The Centre for Health Protection asked the company to isolate and test the nine and, so far, they have tested negative.
The vessel came back on Wednesday morning and the health authorities said they would test all passengers and staff, while the nine will be sent to Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre.
The M+ Museum in West Kowloon will also close on Wednesday and its staff will go for testing after a preliminary-positive case attended the museum.
Restaurant cluster diners all traced
All diners of concern in the first local Omicron transmission cluster at Festival Walk’s Moon Palace restaurant have been successfully traced, Albert Au of the Centre for Health Protection told reporters in Tuesday evening.
Au said the six diners who had not been found until Tuesday had all tested negative and they will be sent to Penny’s Bay for quarantine.
The transmission occurred in the restaurant last Monday and seven diners have since tested positive. The latest preliminary positive case was a 13-year-old girl who dined there with her also-infected mother.
As of Tuesday, Hong Kong has a total of 12,690 confirmed Covid-19 cases, while the death toll stands at 213.