Fifth wave of epidemic with mutant virus may break out in HK anytime, govt urged to trace friends of infected domestic helper in Carribean Coast

David Hui, chair professor of the Department of Respiratory System at CUHK

30th April 2021 – (Hong Kong) The Filipino domestic helper with no travel history has become the first mutant case of local infection with unknown sources. Sh was found to be the carrier of both N501Y and E484K mutant strains. A 10-month-old baby girl who lived with her also tested preliminarily positive.

David Hui, chair professor of the Department of Respiratory System at CUHK, said on a radio program this morning (30th) that he was worried about the fifth wave of the epidemic in Hong Kong breaking out at any time. He pointed out that the Indian engineer who was diagnosed with the mutant virus had entered the community, which may cause the chain of transmission. There is a chance that the virus has infected the domestic helper this time. However, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) stated that the case has not been linked and it is unknown whether the CHP has analysed the virus genes.

Hui also pointed out that the employers of the foreign domestic helper were elementary school teacher and psychologist. He believed that the two would wear masks when they were in contact with students and guests. However, due to the wide range of contacts, those who had been in contact with the two should be subject to compulsory quarantine. Hui also estimated that the foreign domestic helper is highly likely to be infected with the South African variant virus, which is 1.5 times more infectious than the general coronavirus. He emphasised that the next 14 days is the key period to observing whether there will be a community outbreak. If there is a widespread outbreak, he believes the number of confirmed cases will surge in the short term, there will be more cases of unknown sources which will cause the fifth wave of the epidemic in Hong Kong.

Dr.Joseph Tsang, the co-chair of the Infectious Disease Advisory Committee of the Hong Kong Medical Association also pointed out that foreign domestic helpers have a high chance of being infected by people arriving in Hong Kong from overseas, reflecting that the mutant virus has flowed into the community and there is an invisible chain of transmission. The 39-year-old foreign domestic helper lives in  Tower 11, Carmel Cove, Caribbean Coast in Tung Chung. The whole building contains about 400 units and 1,600 residents who were evacuated for quarantine. It has been pointed out that foreign domestic helpers will only go out when they go to the market and meet on weekends. He thinks it is necessary to pay attention to whether foreign domestic helpers will have an invisible transmission chain. In addition to requiring compulsory quarantine for the residents of the building where the foreign domestic helper lives, the government should also keep track of her friends.