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Hong Kong records two cases of the variant discovered in South Africa

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The Hong Kong government said on Thursday it had discovered two cases of a newly identified variant in South Africa, which scientists have warned of showing a major leap in evolution and could limit the effectiveness of vaccines.

Infections were discovered in a man who had returned to Hong Kong from South Africa this month, and later in another man standing outside the hall at the same quarantine hotel. (Hong Kong requires that almost all overseas immigrants be quarantined in hotels for two to three weeks.) The genetic sequence of the viruses was identical in both men, suggesting airborne transmission, by cities. Center for Health Protection. Both men were vaccinated.

Further sequence from Hong Kong University confirmed that the viruses belonged to the new variant from South Africa, officials said, although they acknowledged that information about the impact of the variants on public health is currently lacking.

Some Hong Kong experts have asked the duration and effectiveness of quarantines in Hong Kong, noting that officials have registered several cases of residents in quarantine hotels allegedly infecting people staying in other rooms.

In the case of the latest variant of infections, the government has blamed the first man for not wearing the surgical mask when he opened the door of his hotel room, as well as for the unsatisfactory air flow in the hotel. As of Friday afternoon there were no reports of infections in nearby rooms.

The presence of the new variant could complicate efforts to reopen the border between Hong Kong and mainland China. For months, Hong Kong officials have said that resuming quarantine travel between Chinese territory and the continent is virtually the only country in the world that still pursues a control strategy that requires the complete eradication of the virus is their top priority, although the strategy has damaged the city’s reputation as a global financial hub.

Continental officials have said Hong Kong is not doing enough to control the virus, even though the city has only recorded two cases transmitted in the country in the last six months. Continental Earth has recently faced new internal eruptions; on Thursday, the National Health Commission there reported four new local cases.

On Thursday evening, official no. 2 in Hong Kong, John Lee, said Continental officials had told him earlier in the day that Hong Kong had essentially met the conditions to reopen the border. He said details would still need to be worked out, including the introduction of a continental-style health code application that has raised privacy concerns.

Asked by a journalist if the new variant would delay reopening to the mainland, Mr. Lee said only that the Hong Kong authorities would ensure that adequate research and tracing is carried out in this regard.

Of course, we need to manage and control any new risks, he said.

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2/ https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/26/world/asia/variant-hong-kong-covid.html

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