Omicron may have spread between 2 rooms at Hong Kong quarantine hotel: Study

The Omicron variant was first detected in Botswana on November 11 and three days later in South Africa, which has since then reported an increasing number of cases.

With the world yet to come to grips with the Omicron variant of the deadly SARS-CoV-2, a new study has raised concerns over the spread of the virus despite quarantine in a Hong Kong hotel. Two people staying across each other at a quarantine hotel have been confirmed to be infected by the Omicron variant.

According to a study published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, both were fully vaccinated travellers and the transmission of the variant between the two rooms confirmed the concerns raised by healthcare experts over the fast transmission of the virus.

“We report detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) in an asymptomatic, fully vaccinated traveller in a quarantined hotel in Hong Kong, China. The Omicron variant was also detected in a fully vaccinated traveller staying in a room across the corridor from the index patient, suggesting transmission despite strict quarantine precautions,” the study said.

According to the study, patient A showed a positive result for SARS-CoV-2 without symptoms on November 13, 2021 after which he was hospitalised and isolated, while patient B had mild symptoms develop on November 17, 2021. He showed a positive result for SARS-CoV-2.

Close-circuit television footage showed that both the infected persons never left their rooms nor had any contact. This raises concerns that the virus could have reached from one to another through the airborne medium — when the doors were opened for food collection or Covid testing, for example. “However, because these 2 cases-patients arrived 1 day apart, it is unlikely that they would be tested on the same day. Airborne transmission across the corridor is the most probable mode of transmission,” the study added.

The Omicron variant was first detected in Botswana on November 11 and three days later in South Africa, which has since then reported an increasing number of cases. The variant has since travelled to most of the countries in the world including India, where over 20 cases have been reported.

South African scientists are warning that reinfections among people who’ve already battled Covid-19 appear to be more likely with the new Omicron variant than with earlier coronavirus mutants. Much remains unknown about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious (as some health authorities suspect), whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart vaccines.

Meanwhile, US health officials said Sunday that while the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is rapidly spreading throughout the country, early indications suggest it may be less dangerous than the delta variant, which continues to drive a surge of hospitalisations.

India on Monday reported 8,306 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, 6.6 per cent lower than yesterday. As cases of Omicron pops us in parts of the country the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) is meeting today to discuss the possibility of giving additional doses of vaccines to immunocompromised individuals.


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