15 cops tested after arrest of infected triad suspect

Top News | Wallis Wang 22 Mar 2021

Fifteen police officers were forced to get Covid-19 tests after a suspected Pakistani triad member was found preliminary positive on the night he was arrested for illegal assembly.

The man, 26, was among 17 people arrested, mostly non-Chinese, after gathering at a playground in Sam Ka Tsuen, Lei Yue Mun, on Friday night, apparently during "peace talks" with another gang.

The suspect was yesterday confirmed to be infected - one of eight cases that took Hong Kong's tally to 11,380 with 203 deaths. The other seven were three local infections and four imported from Bangladesh, the Philippines, the United States and Canada.

The Pakistani man was considered a local case with an unknown source. He felt ill after being arrested and was sent to United Christian Hospital.

Chuang Shuk-kwan, Centre for Health Protection's head of the communicable disease unit, said the man had a low viral count and had produced antibodies.

"It's possible that he was not very infectious during the time of arrest," she said. The man's address was still unknown as "he was not cooperative" when being asked by health officials, Chuang said, adding he did say he was unemployed.

But she said the man was holding a recognizance form and arrived in Hong Kong five to six months ago. He went to Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre to sign documents on March 4 and on Thursday. An immigration staff who talked to him face-to-face for a few minutes will be quarantined, Chuang said. She said the man also refused to say if he had interacted with 16 others arrested before the incident, all of whom will be quarantined.

"Because we cannot get the cooperation of the man, we cannot exclude that they may be the same group of friends who might have met previously, not only on that day," Chuang said.

She said police officers and emergency personnel who had contact with the Pakistani will not be classified as close contacts if they wore masks and did not touch him.

Chuang said they would have been regarded as close contacts if they "searched him, fought with him or if the man struggled."

She said authorities are still investigating the case and will take legal action if the man is hiding his address on purpose. "We would like to seek cooperation from this patient, of course, but we will also seek help from the police to see if there is anything we can do to [know where he had been]," Chuang said.

Three other infections were linked to previous cases, including a customer of Ursus Fitness gym, whose cluster has grown to 142. Five close contacts related to the gym also tested preliminary positive.

"I think the Ursus outbreak has been brought under control because the recent cases were all detected in the quarantine center," Chuang said. But she warned there are still silent transmissions in the community - even though infection numbers have dropped - because there are still cases with unknown sources.

Separately, the Grand Court on Babington Path in Sai Wan will be subjected to compulsory tests.

And a 71-year-old taxi driver living in Sui Lok House at Siu Sai Wan Estate tested preliminary positive. He was infected from an unknown source.

The cabbie last drove the taxi - license plate LE7673 - during the daytime on March 17. Chuang said he did not engage in high-risk activities and ate at home. His family members, as well as the driver who shared the taxi with him, will be sent to a quarantine center.

The HSBC headquarters in Central will open today after a thorough disinfection. The office was closed from Wednesday after three staff tested positive.

Meanwhile, officials dismissed as fake news a viral photo caption saying cross-border travel between Hong Kong and the mainland will resume on June 7 and that Hongkongers will no longer need to be quarantined when going to the mainland and Macau.

wallis.wang@singtaonewscorp.com



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