Virus variant in Hong Kong: two noticeable travelers

Status: 11/27/2021 1:15 p.m.

Two fully vaccinated people are the first confirmed Omicron infected in Hong Kong. The explosive: One apparently infected the other despite strict isolation. And: Both have a very high viral load.

By Benjamin Eyssel, ARD-Studio Beijing

The authorities in Hong Kong are reporting two corona infections with the new Omikron variant. The mutated virus was apparently introduced into the Chinese Special Administrative Region by a man from South Africa. He was in hotel quarantine and tested positive for Corona a few days after arriving in Hong Kong. When he arrived on November 11th, the PCR tests were still negative.

What worries the authorities in particular: Apparently, the man infected another person who was in quarantine in the room across the street. According to the newspaper “South China Morning Post”, the 62-year-old had entered Canada and tested positive for the corona virus five days after the man from South Africa – also in the new Omikron variant. Both patients were reportedly fully vaccinated and apparently have a very high viral load.

Mask with filter as a source of infection?

Ben Cowling from the University of Hong Kong assumes that the virus was discovered so quickly in the Chinese Special Administrative Region because there is a lot of testing there. The mutation has probably already arrived in many parts of the world, people just don’t know anything about it, said the epidemiology of the Reuters news agency.

The man, who came from South Africa, is said to have worn a mask with a valve when, for example, he opened the door to bring his food into the room. These masks are now banned in quarantine hotels in Hong Kong because they expel the exhaled air unfiltered. As a precautionary measure, the health authorities have taken all other guests of the hotel to a state quarantine facility. Further cases with the Omicron variant are not yet known in Hong Kong.

Strict quarantine regulations

The Chinese Special Administrative Region operates a strict zero-covid policy. The quarantine is particularly strict. You are not allowed to leave your hotel room for several weeks after entering the country. There are very few locally transmitted infections. If there are corona cases, they mostly come from abroad.

Financial markets around the world have reacted to the news about the new Omikron variant. The HangSeng index also closed in the red in Hong Kong yesterday. Hong Kong analyst Francis Lun told AP news agency that the new virus variant will set the global economic recovery back by months.

Hong Kong reports two corona cases with the Omicron variant

Benjamin Eyssel, ARD Beijing, 27.11.2021 · 12:40 p.m.

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