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Hong Kong fourth wave: public housing block cluster grows, as city registers 82 new Covid-19 cases!

  • Almost half of 77 local infections untraceable, as officials identify possible outbreak among domestic workers

  • Cases among residents of Kwai Tung House in Wong Tai Sin on the rise, as dance club cluster also increases

A cluster of Covid-19 cases in a public housing block grew on Monday, prompting the Hong Kong government to put residents under a mandatory testing order, as the city registered 82 new coronavirus infections.

Thirty-seven of the new cases were untraceable, accounting for almost half of the 77 local infections, and health officials identified a possible outbreak in a boarding house for domestic helpers in Tai Po.

Public hospital officials warned it was not just the older members of society who were susceptible to serious complications from the virus, with around half of the Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care units in the past 11 months under 70 years old, they said.

Monday also marked the death of one more patient, with a 49-year-old chronically ill man dying at United Christian Hospital, after being admitted last Wednesday.

The total number of confirmed cases in the city stands at 7,623, with 118 related deaths.

Among the clusters that registered an increase in infections on Monday were a public housing estate in Wong Tai Sin, the dance club cluster, and a major department store. Two more care homes also registered infections among staff or residents.

Kwai Tung House, in Tung Tau Estate, which saw a cluster of Covid-19 cases recently, recorded two more cases. So far nine residents, from six units, have been infected.

At least three infections involved people living in flats numbered 15 on different floors, while the others were in other numbers and from various floors.

“Some officers and Professor Yuen Kwok-yung had gone there to check whether any problems with the drainage or other factors at flats numbered 15 caused the current condition,” said Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch of the Centre for Health Protection.

She was referring to the infectious diseases expert from University of Hong Kong, who advises the government on its Covid-19 response.

The public housing block cluster in Wong Tai Sin began to emerge in late November, and came after a group of cases at Richland Gardens, a subsidised housing estate in Kowloon Bay.

All the infections there involved residents living in D units of Block 6, and experts suspected problems in the drainage design of the block caused the transmission of the virus.

Elsewhere, Conrad Nursing Home in San Po Kong had a worker infected, while a resident at an elderly care home in Prince Edward West also tested positive.

There were fears a new cluster was forming among domestic workers, after two were confirmed as being infected on Monday. They had visited a dormitory in Fung Nin Building in Tai Po, and several people who also visited tested preliminary-positive for the virus.

Two more cases were linked to the dance club cluster, taking the total number of infections associated with that outbreak to 720. There was also one more infection linked to the Sha Tin branch of Yata department store, and five imported cases.

Dr Ho Pak-leung, a microbiologist from HKU, warned it was unlikely that the health crisis would improve in the coming weeks.

“The high number of local untraceable cases is expected to remain for a certain period of time. Before the start of the new year, a significant drop in cases is unlikely,” Ho said.

While Sunday marked the most local untraceable infections since August 1, the daily case tally in that category has tended to hover between 10 and 40 during the city’s ongoing fourth wave of Covid-19.

Ho urged the government to step up law enforcement in regard to s ocial-distancing regulations , and urged the public to adopt the most stringent approach possible to fight the virus, especially on colder days, when there could be higher transmission risks.

“The epidemic is now very serious. The public should adopt a martial-law-like attitude to social activities,” he said. “After leaving home, don’t let your mask be away from your face.”

Hong Kong fourth wave: public housing block cluster grows, as city registers 82 new Covid-19 cases including 37 of unknown origin | South China Morning Post (scmp.com)

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