Hong Kong officials to leave quarantine after false positive

Hong Kong (AFP) – Multiple Hong Kong officials and lawmakers will be allowed to leave a quarantine camp after one of two coronavirus cases detected at a party they attended was declared a false positive on Saturday.


Dozens of senior officials and lawmakers were ordered into Hong Kong's 21-day quarantine facilities this week as health officials warn of an imminent outbreak due to the Omicron variant.

Hong Kong's top cop Raymond Siu and financial services and treasury chief Christopher Hui will be among those leaving quarantine after a day-long stay.

Authorities earlier confirmed 13 senior officials and 19 lawmakers attended a Monday night birthday bash for Witman Hung, a member of China's top lawmaking body.

Health inspectors have issued quarantine orders for all 180 or so attendees after finding two coronavirus case among the guests.

But on Saturday, health officials said the second case -- a woman whose virus test was conducted by her doctor husband -- was a false positive.

The doctor's hands were "most likely contaminated" by the Sinovac vaccine when he tested his wife, said microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung after inspecting the clinic with health officials.

The woman's sample raised suspicions as it contained a virus strain which is now only found in vaccines, Yuen added.

Around 80 people will have their quarantine orders rescinded, including more than 10 people who have already arrived at the Penny's Bay isolation facility.

Firebrand nationalist Junius Ho is expected to be among the lawmakers granted an early release, local media reported.

The other 100 party attendees will remain in quarantine because they were deemed close contacts with the confirmed virus patient.

Health officials said they have not yet found any virus transmission linked to the party.

On Friday night, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam ordered a probe into the 13 officials and promised to take "appropriate action" after completing investigations.

The incident triggered a wave of apologies from officials, lawmakers and the birthday celebrant Hung.

While the party was legal under rules at the time, health officials had advised people three days earlier to avoid big gatherings.

Lawmakers sent to quarantine will miss the first meeting of the "patriots only" legislature scheduled for Wednesday.

The city has recorded 223 Omicron cases as of Friday night.