Doubts over coronavirus mutant strain spreading from door hooks at quarantine hotels

Local | 21 Apr 2021 11:43 am

Medical experts on Wednesday raised doubts over a presumption that a mutated strain of coronavirus had been spread at a quarantine hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui via door hooks, RTHK reports.

A man who travelled from Dubai and completed a 21-day quarantine at Ramada Hong Kong Grand Hotel was found to be infected with the highly infectious South African coronavirus variant. Officials subsequently found that two other guests who stayed on the same floor also carried the same variant.

The Centre for Health Protection said it’s likely that hooks used by hotel staff to hang meal boxes for quarantined guests were to blame for the coronavirus transmission.

But an expert advising the government on its coronavirus strategy, Professor David Hui of the Chinese University, told a radio program that there’s no evidence supporting the presumption as tests later did not find the coronavirus on the hooks.

A specialist in respiratory medicine, Leung Chi-chiu, echoed Hui’s views, saying he didn’t believe this was how the coronavirus was transmitted.

He said airborne transmission was more likely.

“For these hotels, many of them have a very long corridor, some of them may not be well-ventilated," he said. "When individuals open the doors, especially when they are not wearing the masks, there’s a risk that contaminated air may get into the corridor."

“If another person from another room opens the door, the air may go into the room. This may be a reason for cross-transmission.”

Leung urged the government to closely monitor the coronavirus situation and put on hold its plan to further relax social distancing rules if there is a rebound in infections.

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