Cross COVID-19 infection in connected rooms of Silka Seaview Hotel due to insufficient air changes (Updated: 5.36pm)

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16th January 2022 – (Hong Kong) A 43-year-old woman who had been under compulsory quarantine at Silka Seaview Hotel in Yau Ma Tei tested positive and the patient was suspected of being infected in the hotel. Her Ct value was around 20. Yuen Kwok-yung, chair professor of the Department of Microbiology of the University of Hong Kong, who is also an expert advisor to the government, visited the hotel today (16th) accompanied by staff from the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department. It is understood that 2 cluster outbreaks occurred in the Silka Seaview Hotel.

During the press conference this afternoon, he pointed out that the quarantined persons in the connected rooms on the 4th and 12th floors of the hotel were infected. Yuen pointed out that the air change rate of the hotel was insufficient, which led to cross-infection.

Yuen pointed out that after the smoke test, the air transmitted from Room No. 1205 to Room No. 1206, and the air in Room No. 413 was also transmitted to Room No. 414, and only the corridor has an air purifier. The closed-circuit footage shows that one quarantined person opened the door to take food for around 30 seconds before the quarantined person next door opened the door. Hence, the patient was infected. The hotel’s air purifier was on the automatic adjustment mode, and the air purifier order would automatically turn off after some time, affecting the disinfection effect. Yuen believes that the hotel should keep the air purifier on for a long time, and install the air purifiers in the rooms.

In addition, since the hotel staff were wearing face masks, they were not infected. For the sake of safety, it is recommended that there are 3 rooms on the left and right sides of the room involved, and 3 rooms on the left and right opposite the room. Quarantined persons should extend their quarantine for another 14 days. Yuen pointed out that as long as the room is equipped with an air purifier and the staff wears face masks, the hotel can start receiving close contacts for quarantine tomorrow as scheduled, and there is no need to suspend operation.

Dr.Chuang Shuk-kwan from the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health, said that two rooms in the hotel were found to be related, and it was suspected that there was a chain of transmission in the hotel. One of the rooms was occupied by Cases No12893 and 12895, who arrived in Hong Kong on 2nd January, while the other room was occupied by Case No.12994, who arrived in Hong Kong on the 25th of last month. The samples tested positive on 17th day after their arrivals. The genome sequencing result is very similar, and CHP suspected that there was a risk of transmission between the two rooms.

The other case involves a 71-year-old Nepalese man (Case No. 12891). It is suspected that the two cases are related. In particular, a new confirmed sample was found on the 26th day after arriving in Hong Kong. After checking the hotel, it was found that there were 2 rooms on another floor with related cases i.e. Cases No. 12893 and 12895, the whole genome sequencing result of the three of them is very similar.

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