A Covid-19 patient whose valve-style face mask was blamed for a cross infection in a quarantine hotel last week has been found to be carrying a new variant of the virus with a high number of mutations, marking the first known appearance of the strain in Hong Kong.
The Department of Health revealed on Thursday night that a genome sequencing analysis confirmed the patient, who arrived in the city from South Africa, and another hotel guest who tested positive a few days after him, were infected with the B.1.1.529 [Omicron] coronavirus variant. Both were fully vaccinated.
The new variant – which has been designated “Omicron” by the WHO, in keeping with global naming conventions based on the Greek alphabet – was first discovered in Botswana. Apart from the two cases in Hong Kong, only nine others have been identified worldwide so far – three in Botswana, and six in South Africa.
** We understand that the infected patient had at least one PCR tests that proved negative before testing positive for B.1.1.529 during his stay in quarantine **
⚠️BREAKING—HOTEL CROSS TRANSMISSION OF #B11529—Traveler from South Africa🇿🇦 flew to Hong Kong🇭🇰 with new variant—but wasn’t discovered until 4th day of quarantine on 2nd PCR. Another guest across hallway cross-infected—only positive on 8th day on 4th PCR! Both Pfizer vaccinated🧵 pic.twitter.com/USS2EBzJKA
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) November 25, 2021