Social distancing measures restricting gatherings larger than eight people will be extended for two more weeks, Hong Kong authorities announced Tuesday as six more—four of which are local cases—tested positive for the virus.
All of the four local cases are residents at Luk Chuen House in Sha Tin’s Lek Yuen Estate, where a 34-year-old woman and her husband who were confirmed to have the disease on Sunday also live. Two of the patients had mild symptoms, and the other two were asymptomatic when admitted to hospital.
The news today brings the total number of infections linked to the woman to eight.
Besides the local cases, two cases related to imported infections were also confirmed. One is a 15-year-old male who had come back from Pakistan on May 16.
Another is a 42-year-old female who does not have travel history. But she was quarantined with her mother, who has health problems, to take care of her upon her return from Pakistan. Her mother tested positive for the virus on May 21 and it is believed that she had passed the virus to her daughter.
Hong Kong has recorded 1,094 COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday.
Authorities inspected the Sha Tin apartment in the early hours of Tuesday and said cross-infection via surfaces like lift buttons and door handles could have facilitated the spread of the virus. All residents living in the block have been asked to submit a saliva sample for testing but were not evacuated from the building.
All 1,200 residents living in the apartment block were asked to submit a saliva sample for testing. Authorities have collected around 1,000 and tested 700 of them.
“There may be super spreaders spreading the virus in the building,” said Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, a medical expert on the government’s coronavirus advisory team and a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong, after an inspection of the building on Tuesday morning.
Hong Kong had earlier gone more than two weeks without any reported local transmission until Sunday. The woman, considered “patient zero” of the cluster, had a “high viral load” in her body when tested, authorities said. She is in critical condition and has been put on a ventilator.
The woman likely also infected two colleagues at the Kerry Logistics warehouse in Kwai Chung, where she works part time, as well as a paramedic who took her to the hospital on Saturday.