Tai Po fears up over Delta find in sewage

Local | Jane Cheung 24 Jun 2021

Jane Cheung

Tests are being urgently conducted at over 40 residential blocks, primary schools and a Buddhist temple in Tai Po after sewage in the area was found to be carrying a high viral load of a highly contagious Covid-19 mutant strain.

This came as a 27-year-old male airport ground crew member living in Wan Hang House in Wan Tau Tong Estate in Tai Po tested preliminary positive for the L452R Delta mutant strain first discovered in India.

Wan Hang House was locked down at 7pm so as to test all residents by 7.30am today.

The Centre for Health Protection said the man developed symptoms, including a fever, sore throat and cough, on Monday and consulted a private doctor that day.

He submitted a deep throat saliva sample on Tuesday, and the results came back positive for the Delta mutant strain.

The man has no history of travel, but is an airline ground crew member at the airport, where he received cargo flight crew members. He last worked there on June 16.

He also worked part-time in customer services at Uptown Plaza in Tai Po, with his last shift at the mall on Tuesday.

Compulsory test notices have been issued for the airport and Uptown Plaza.

Authorities yesterday also announced that sewage samples in the man's neighborhood tested positive for Covid-19 with a high viral loads and issued mandatory test notices for dozens of surrounding structures.

The notices cover the residential blocks of Classical Gardens, Dynasty View, Grand Dynasty View, The Balmoral, Wan Tau tong Estate, Yat Nga Court, King Nga Court, Tak Nga Court and Ha Wun Yiu, as well as Buddhist Ting Wai Monastery, Yan Chai Hospital Choi Hin To Primary School and Po Leung Kuk Tin Ka Ping Primary School.

Hundreds of residents were seen queuing in the rain for tests yesterday outside mobile stations at Tai Po Market Station Public Transport Interchange, Ma Wo Road Garden and outside Yat Wing House of Yat Nga Court, which operate from 10am to 8pm.

Officially, Hong Kong recorded two confirmed cases yesterday, comprising one case from Indonesia and the other with a pending travel history.

Also yesterday, authorities banned all flights from Indonesia from Friday onward, as the SAR has recorded more than 10 imported cases from the country carrying the Alpha N501Y mutant strain over the past week.

If the airport crew member's preliminary positive becomes a confirmed case, Hong Kong record of "zero local infections" for 16 days will be broken in a major setback for the SAR's plans to reopen the border with Macau.

Respiratory specialist Leung Chi-chiu believed the man was infected by an imported case. "It's more likely to be human-to-human transmission, but we can't rule out the possibility of object-to-human transmission," he said, adding that the mutant strain "usually grows into a massive outbreak within a short period when in a new place."

Authorities on Monday announced the relaxation of some social distancing measures based on the "vaccine bubble" concept from today and the halving of hotel quarantine for fully vaccinated returnees next week.

In light of the preliminary positive case, Leung called for authorities to reconsider those changes.

Meanwhile, more than two million people have taken the first jab of Covid-19 vaccines, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said. This would mean 29.2 percent of the city's 6.84 million population above 12 have taken the shots.

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July 2021

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