Coronavirus: Hong Kong officials warn K11 Musea ‘super-spreader’ cluster may continue to grow, as city records 22 new Covid-19 cases

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More than 10 people who ate at a Chinese restaurant in an upscale Hong Kong mall which has been linked to a growing coronavirus “super-spreader” cluster remain unaccounted for, officials have said, while the city recorded 22 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday.

The cluster, tied to Mr Ming’s Chinese Dining at the K11 Musea shopping centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, increased by 10 cases, including one close contact of a worker at the restaurant, two diners and seven other close contacts. That took the total number of people linked to the outbreak to 44.

More than 10 buildings, including three hotels in Causeway Bay, Yau Ma Tei and Wan Chai, a law firm in Lippo Centre at Admiralty, and staff quarters for Matilda International Hospital will be placed under mandatory testing orders after people working and living in those places were infected.

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Dr Albert Au, principal medical and health officer of the Communicable Disease Branch of the Centre for Health Protection, warned the restaurant cluster might continue to grow.

“We currently have placed about 100 close contacts in quarantine centres, and as there is an incubation period, there is a chance some of them have not shown symptoms yet and might become infected in the following days,” Au said.

“Meanwhile we are still unable to get in touch with more than 10 diners from the restaurant, and we are not ruling out new cases from them … There could be a chance of community transmission from them.”

Au said tracing work had so far identified an employee from Mr Ming’s Chinese Dining, who showed symptoms on February 18, as the first case in the cluster.

A worker at one of the Cartier stores in K11 Musea, who tested preliminary-positive on Saturday, was also confirmed as infected, and about 10 other staff members at the jewellery store would be quarantined.

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Other close contacts of the cluster included a man working at a law firm in Lippo Centre, and a nurse at the Dr Patrick Wong clinic in Tai Kok Tsui, which was visited by three diners from the restaurant.

Two doctors, two nurses and a cleaner at the clinic would be quarantined, while patients who visited the clinic at the same time as the diners would also be considered close contacts.

The shopping centre, which has closed for two days after the outbreak, said it would run three testing stations from 9am, with 1,500 people to be screened on Sunday. All employees must present negative results for Covid-19 before returning to work.

The new infections brought the city’s tally to 11,005, while the death of a 73-year-old man on Sunday pushed the number of Covid-19 related fatalities to 199.

More than 10 people had tested preliminary-positive, among them an IT worker at Kowloon Hospital, Au said. About 50 others working in the same department would be quarantined, he added.

Hongkongers lining up to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Photo: EPA-EFE
Hongkongers lining up to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Photo: EPA-EFE

There were five imported infections among the new cases, four of which involved newly arrived domestic helpers from the Philippines and Indonesia. Another imported case arrived from Pakistan through Dubai.

Au said four of Sunday’s new infections were of unknown origin, including a man who worked part-time at a sports equipment shop in Mong Kok. His mother, who works as a ward assistant at the Tseung Kwan O Hospital, and his brother, a boxing instructor, have both tested preliminary-positive.

Dr Sara Ho Yuen-ha, a chief manager at the Hospital Authority, said the woman had worn a mask while working, so no patients were considered close contacts. However, a colleague who had stayed with the woman, and six others who ate together, would be quarantined.

The shop worker was friends with a worker at a biscuit shop in K11 Musea who had shown symptoms, Au said.

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Another 31-year-old man with an untraceable source of infection worked in the lobby of three hotels in Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, and Yau Ma Tei.

All three, the Hotel Ease Access, The Park Lane Hotel, and Novotel Hong Kong Nathan Road Kowloon, have been issued with a mandatory Covid-19 testing orders. None of the hotels are listed as designated quarantine centres for travellers arriving from abroad.

Earlier on Sunday, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said since the city’s mass vaccination drive launched on Monday, up to 13,600 residents, including those from priority groups such as health care workers and those aged 60 and above, as well as senior government officials including Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had received their shots.

Cheung wrote in his blog that reservations for more vaccination slots would open again at 9am on Monday, with an additional three centres offering the Sinovac jabs from mainland China.

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