Community outbreak involving new highly transmissible Omicron sub-variant BA.2 may erupt in HK soon after Pakistani woman infected 9 others

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18th January 2022 – (Hong Kong) The new highly transmissible variant of Omicron sub-variant “BA.2” has entered the Hong Kong community. It was reported recently that persons under quarantine at Silka Seaview Hotel in Yau Ma Tei experienced cross-infection.

A 43-year-old female Pakistani woman who lives in Tung Moon House, Tai Hang Tung Estate arrived in Hong Kong from Pakistan on flights EK609、EK384 via Dubai tested positive on 16th January. During her compulsory quarantine at Silka Seaview Hotel in Yau Ma Tei, all 6 tests were negative. She returned to the community after quarantine and tested positive for COVID-19 four days later. 5 family members living together with her and 4 relatives were diagnosed today. The nine of them roamed freely in the community for at least 4 days during incubation period before being tested positive.

The Pakistani woman is infected with the more potent Omicron sub-variant “BA.2” which is different from the previous Moon Palace cluster outbreak in which the flight attendant and her mother were infected with Omicron sub-variant “BA.1”.

This is the first Omicron sub-variant e “BA.2” variant virus transmission chain in Hong Kong and it is more likely that the virus has spread to the residents of the upper floors in Tung Moon House where the female patient lives, as well as a student who took the same exam in the same room with one of the infected patients living in the building. The virus was then transmitted to the resident living on the higher floor of Mei Foo Sun Chuen Phase 3 where the school is located. According to sources, two more patients went to the A&E department of a public hospital this afternoon and preliminarily tested positive with unknown sources. It is suspected that the cluster outbreak initiated by the Pakistani woman has expanded, and they may be infected with Omicron sub-variant “BA.2”.

Analyses are underway and it is highly concerned that Omicron sub-variant “BA.2” outbreak will erupt further in the community soon.

The Omicron variant has 3 sub-lineages – BA 1, BA.2 and BA.3. Cases from one of the new sub-lineages of the Omicron variant were first detected in the U.K. last week

While the world is still coming to terms with the Omicron variant that has spread across the world, the Daily Express reported that the country has detected 53 sequences of a sub-lineage of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. The newspaper cites the UK Health Security Agency (UKHA) as the source of the breaking news.

The UK Health Security Agency on Friday stated it was increasingly confident that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was less severe for adults, as it published its updated briefing on the variant. The UKHSA said: “There is now high confidence that the Omicron variant causes low severity of disease in adults.” 

The UKHSA also warned that there were 53 sequences of a sub-lineage of Omicron, BA.2, which does not have a specific mutation that allows it to be easily distinguishable from Delta, adding it would monitor it closely.

Meanwhile, at least 20 such cases have been identified in Israel.

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