Hong Kong reported three new COVID-19 cases on Monday, sparking fears of a new cluster more than two weeks after recording no local transmission.
The cases are all linked to a 34-year-old woman who tested positive for the virus over the weekend. She has no recent travel history and the source of her infection is unknown. Two of Monday’s new cases are her colleagues at the Kerry Logistics warehouse in Kwai Chung, where she works, and one is a paramedic who took her to the hospital on Saturday.
The woman, who authorities said in a press conference on Sunday has a “high viral load,” also infected her husband. She is in critical condition and has been put on a ventilator.
Authorities collected 31 environmental samples from the Kwai Chung warehouse yesterday, Chuang Shuk-kwan, the head of the Centre for Health Protection’s communicable disease branch told reporters on Monday. The samples were taken from surfaces that workers come into frequent contact with—including lockers, door handles and computers—as well as food packaging imported from the United Kingdom that is stored at the warehouse.
All the samples returned negative results.
Marks and Spencer, which wrote in a statement on Facebook that Kerry Logistics is one of its “logistics partners,” said it is disinfecting its stores out of an abundance of caution.
The new cluster ends the city’s streak of 16 virus-free days.
“The resurgence of local cases is a warning that… we cannot look forward to eliminating cases locally in the short term,” said Chui Tak-yi, the Under Secretary for Food and Health. “We have to have the sufficient mental preparedness and alertness that there will be cases from time to time.”
This is the second time within a month that a local cluster has emerged. Two weeks ago, a family in Tsuen Wan—an elderly couple and their 5-year-old granddaughter—tested positive for the virus.
Last Friday, health authorities reported 13 new cases in Hong Kong, all of them returning travelers from Pakistan.
There are now 1,087 COVID-19 cases in the city. Authorities said 66 patients remain in hospital.