Local experts concerned testing reagents may not detect COVID-19 variant virus effectively

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9th May 2021 – (Hong Kong) There are COVID-19 cases of variant virus in Hong Kong. Professor Albert Yu Cheung-Hoi Chairman, Hong Kong Biotechnology Organisation and chairman of Hong Kong Council for Testing and Certification said today (9th) that because the variant virus has changed too much, the testing reagent will only detect a certain viral genome, and he is worried about the erroneous test results.

He is concerned about whether the existing reagents can detect the virus.

Meanwhile, Dr Gilman Siu, Department of Health Technology and Informatics PolyU said today that Hong Kong has temporarily recorded cases of variant viruses in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and India. The existing reagents should be able to detect the above three variant viruses; however, the French variant virus can circumvent the reagents used in Hong Kong. If it is found that the French variant virus has been imported, the detection strategy may need to be changed. Siu also said that as the transmission chain of Indian men infected with the variant virus was quickly found, the fifth wave of the outbreak could be temporarily avoided. He described it as “great sign of relief.” However, if there is still hidden cases among the foreign domestic helpers who meet on weekends, there may be a major outbreak in the community.

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