Hong Kong authorities reported 107 new virus cases Monday, marking the first time in about a month that the city has seen a three-digit increase in daily infections. Just five are patients with recent travel history.
Among the new cases, 42 have no known source of infection, with around half of them residents of Yau Tsim Mong. The Kowloon district, where many live in cramped subdivided flats in old walk-up buildings, has emerged as a virus hotspot since the new year began.
To date, 160 cases have been linked to the growing cluster in Yau Tsim Mong, a district home to the highest proportion of ethnic minority communities in Hong Kong.
Chuang Shuk-kwan, Head of the Center for Health Protection’s Communicable Disease Branch, said that of the 661 local cases recorded over the last two weeks, more than one quarter of them are South Asians—with most of them of Nepalese and Indian descent.
Seven more buildings in Yau Tsim Mong have been issued mandatory testing orders, including on Shanghai Street, Reclamation Street and Temple Street.
Hong Kong has seen a slow decline in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks, with an average of 41 new cases daily since the new year began.
The last time the number of new cases in a day stood at over 100 was Dec. 19, when 109 infections were recorded.
The sudden spike in cases, Chuang says, could be attributed to an increase in mandatory and voluntary testing done by Yau Tsim Mong residents. A total of 7,100 people in the district underwent testing over the weekend alone, according to official figures.
Authorities said contact tracing has proved difficult as some flats in old tenement buildings do not have a list of residents.
Around 50 preliminary infections were recorded Monday.
Hong Kong has recorded 9,665 COVID-19 cases and 162 virus-related fatalities to date.
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