The explosion of instances threw a highlight on the area of interest social scene that many within the metropolis knew little about earlier than the outbreak.
Authorities warned of a “super-spreading” occasion centred on dance golf equipment throughout the town after the variety of Covid-19 instances tied to such venues continued to develop.
The cluster has ballooned to 732 individuals – the most important in Hong Kong because the begin of the pandemic – rapidly eclipsing an outbreak linked to bars and musical performances in March that concerned 103 individuals.
The cluster got here to gentle after a 75-year-old businesswoman who visited the Starlight Dance Membership in Wan Chai was confirmed as contaminated on November 19, sparking a race to trace down contacts of contaminated patrons and workers.
Individuals queue up for Covid-19 testing at a group centre after a spike in instances linked to bop venues. Picture: Nora Tam
A few of these within the cluster, together with a 29-year-old man, had been to as many as 5 separate venues earlier than the onset of signs.
Well being officers recognized a complete of 28 dancing and singing venues linked to the cluster.
In a bid to comprise the outbreak, the federal government required obligatory testing for the primary time because the well being disaster started in January. The testing orders had been first issued to those that had visited the dance venues, then expanded to cowl different rising clusters.
The spike in Covid-19 instances additionally prompted Hong Kong and Singapore to postpone a quarantine-free air journey bubble – the world’s first such settlement – in late November, only a day earlier than the primary flight was because of take off.
Unfold of the instances amongst dance golf equipment
Location of the clusters
Hover/faucet the circles for data
What are the dance golf equipment like?
Hong Kong’s huge community of dance venues contains golf equipment, studios, eating places, banquet halls and personal institutions.
The dance golf equipment – to not be confused with nightclubs – function as social venues the place meals and drinks are served, and cater largely to rich girls. At Chinese language eating places and banquet halls, in the meantime, a day mahjong session adopted by an evening of dancing and dwell music was a well-liked pastime earlier than the outbreak.
Individuals dancing at Betterment Banquet Corridor. Picture: Handout
Some purchasers would e book out a restaurant to host social occasions, together with non-public or group dancing and singing classes.
Effectively-heeled, principally feminine members of the group had been mentioned to spend big sums of cash on dance classes, even illegally ferrying instructors into Hong Kong throughout the border from Shenzhen.
They might pay all related bills, together with for entry charges to venues and meals. Some would even purchase luxurious presents for his or her lecturers, corresponding to model new iPhones, Rolex watches and designer clothes.
Dwell music efficiency at Starlight Dance Membership. Picture: Handout
Lower than two weeks after the primary an infection at Starlight in mid-November, new outbreaks tied to bop venues emerged at two housing estates and an aged care facility.
The outbreak at Richland Gardens, a subsidised housing property in Kowloon Bay, pressured many residents to evacuate after design issues had been discovered within the property’s sewage system that might probably facilitate the virus’ unfold.
All residents within the D items of Block 6 had been despatched to quarantine, and greater than 1,000 residents in three blocks needed to endure obligatory Covid-19 testing. A 69-year-old lady who lived in a D flat of Block 6 was discovered to have visited three dancing venues.
Residents of the fifth ground of Block 8 at Kwai Shing West Property in Kwai Chung had been additionally despatched to quarantine after individuals who lived in separate flats there fell unwell. Whereas the outbreak was initially restricted to the fifth ground – the place a 77-year-old man who visited the Kam Lai Membership in Mong Kok lived – it quickly unfold to completely different ranges, prompting authorities to require obligatory testing for the entire block.
The cluster additionally unfold to Ho Yuk Ching Willow Lodge, a care facility for the aged in Tai Kok Tsui, after a 59-year-old caregiver there was confirmed to be contaminated on November 30. She lived in Tak Lengthy Property in Kai Tak, the place some contaminated residents had been additionally discovered to have visited the dance golf equipment.
To this point, the outbreaks attributed to the dance cluster on the housing estates and the aged care house account for 54 infections, and 4 fatalities, all of which had been at Ho Yuk Ching.
Outbreaks at two main non-public hospitals accounting for a complete of 14 instances had been additionally believed to be linked to the dance cluster, however are usually not formally included within the complete tally of 732.
Hong Kong’s intergenerational dancing group cuts throughout social class, with individuals from each lower-income and rich households falling unwell after visiting the dance venues.
A complete of 305 individuals – 122 males and 183 girls, aged 19 to 89 – within the cluster went to at the least one dance membership both two days earlier than onset of signs or throughout their incubation interval.
Of these sufferers, 76 girls had been between 60 and 69 years previous, representing 41.5 per cent of females within the cluster who went to the dancing and singing venues.
There was a double-digit distinction between the common age of feminine and male sufferers at 16 of the 22 dance venues contaminated individuals visited.
As an example, at Starlight, solely two feminine sufferers had been of their 30s, whereas the opposite 19 had been aged 55 or older. Against this, two-thirds of the 24 male guests to check constructive had been of their 20s and 30s.
However the ages had been much less skewed at Kam Lai Membership, which had probably the most confirmed instances, with 92. There, the common age of each female and male guests was 62 years previous.
Individually, solely male guests examined constructive at Chasse in Wan Chai. They had been between the ages of 29 and 47.
Dr Joseph Tsang Kay-yan, an infectious illness specialist, mentioned the super-spreading occasion in dance golf equipment created a sudden surge in instances, which elevated the workload for contact tracers and piled stress on isolation services.
He famous that some individuals weren’t keen to reveal that they had been a part of the cluster, making it tough to conduct contact tracing.
“As a consequence of privateness, there have been lacking gaps, which made it laborious to hyperlink up and determine potential instances or shut contacts. Individuals could possibly be spreading the virus in the neighborhood whereas authorities tracked them down,” he mentioned.
Tsang identified that the dancers spanned all social lessons, and unfold the virus to their households and shut contacts.
He added that their residences, significantly public housing estates with previous drainage programs, is also vulnerable to spreading the virus to different flats, creating new chains of transmission.
“The super-spreader occasion created many chains of transmission in the neighborhood, which amplified the results,” he mentioned.
Inventive Director Darren Lengthy
Further analysis by Robbie Hu
Supply: Centre for Well being Safety
Information as of December 30, 2020