Newborn in Mong Kok cluster

Top News | Wallis Wang 7 Apr 2021

A 12-day-old baby - the youngest to be infected so far in Hong Kong - is confirmed to be one of seven new Covid-19 cases yesterday, including three local cases all linked to a Fortress store salesman in Mong Kok.

The seven comprised four imported cases from India and Pakistan and three local infections, taking the tally to 11,532 with 205 deaths.

The baby boy, his seven-year-old sister and their 31-year-old mother are part of a family of four that includes the Fortress salesman, 32, who was confirmed with Covid-19 from an unknown source Monday.

The baby and his sister fell ill on Sunday and Monday, but the mother was asymptomatic.

The family lives in Wah Tong House at Yau Tong Estate and the salesman works in the Fortress store at Wai Fung Plaza Shopping Arcade on Nathan Road, Mong Kok.

He had visited the Lei Yue Mun market multiple times, where two other Covid-19 patients had also been at different times.

The market has been subjected to compulsory tests and more than 400 residents have undergone tests as of 1pm yesterday.

Although the market operated as usual yesterday, vendors saw fewer customers.

Fish shop worker Yeung said business yesterday was a third of normal volumes.

"I expect the business would drop for a week as residents are not willing to come to this market now," she said.

But some shoppers still showed up, saying it was the only wet market in Yau Tong.

Of the four imported cases, three were from India, including a 39-year-old man who carried the South Africa variant and arrived Sunday. The fourth case was a 21-year-old man from Pakistan who arrived Monday, also found to be carrying the South Africa strain.

That came as experts are divided over a proposal to ban overseas flights, including from the Philippines, to stop variant strains from entering.

University of Hong Kong's Ho Pak-leung suggested flights from the Philippines, Pakistan and India be banned, as cases in those countries have surged dramatically.

"All of the 15 imported cases [on Monday] were from the three countries and half of them carried the N501Y variant," Ho said yesterday.

The SAR should ban flights from the three countries and observe whether Covid control measures of their respective governments are working, or the SAR will risk introduction of new variants and trigger a new wave of infections, he said.

Ho said the new variant could be spread to local communities through airport staff and quarantine hotels.

"I'm worried that a fifth wave could be caused by the variant if the government fails to control imported cases," Ho said.

He added that an outbreak triggered by new mutants would spread faster.

But other experts had reservations over the proposal, saying a ban would affect domestic workers' plans to come here.

David Hui Shu-cheong, respiratory medicine expert from the Chinese University, said the 21-day quarantine arrangement for arrivals is the strictest in the world and effective in stopping the virus from entering communities.

Hui said local families would face difficulties hiring domestic helpers if the flights are banned.

But he suggested the authorities could require helpers to get vaccinated before coming to Hong Kong.



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