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Omicron sub-variant’s stealthy rise puts Hong Kong on the back ...


Omicron sub-variant’s stealthy rise puts Hong Kong on the back foot

The city has avoided Covid for months and kept out Delta last year, but now the stealth variant is raising its head

Shirley Zhao

After avoiding Covid-19 for months, Hong Kong is grappling with an outbreak caused by a novel twist on Omicron that’s rare, but on the rise worldwide.

More than 200 people have been infected with the “stealth” variant, which has been traced back to a traveller infected by the strain during a 21-day hotel quarantine, according to the government. It’s one of the largest outbreaks in the city, which has taken increasingly drastic steps to stamp out the disease, from locking down thousands of residents and banning flights from countries including the US and UK, to killing thousands of hamsters after some tested positive.   

While little is known of the BA.2 Omicron sub-variant, including whether it’s more infectious or deadly, it’s widely considered harder to detect because of its unique genetic traits that make it difficult to distinguish from other Covid-19 variants. The Hong Kong government is concerned the strain could double the number of cases in two to three days, making it a particular threat to the city, which is densely populated, but has one of the lowest vaccination rates among developed economiesr. ..

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