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CHP investigates locally acquired SARS-CoV-2 virus cases with 4 000 cases tested positive by nucleic acid tests and 14 751 cases by RATs as well as 954 imported cases
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (December 22) announced the latest epidemic situation of COVID-19. As of 0.00am, December 22, the CHP was investigating 18 751 additional locally acquired cases that tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, comprising 4 000 cases that tested positive by nucleic acid tests (1 870 confirmed cases, 1 764 asymptomatic cases and 366 cases with pending status) and 14 751 cases that tested positive by rapid antigen tests (RATs) in the past 24 hours.

     Separately, 954 additional imported cases were reported, including 777 cases that tested positive by nucleic acid tests (124 confirmed cases, 594 asymptomatic cases and 59 cases with pending status) and 177 cases that tested positive by RATs. Among the additional imported cases, 495 of them involved samples at the airport, 348 of them involved samples during Day 1 to Day 3, and the remaining 111 involved samples during Day 4 to Day 7.

     Hong Kong has recorded a total of 1 128 235 and 1 293 708 cases that have tested positive by nucleic acid tests and RATs respectively for the SARS-CoV-2 virus so far.

     The CHP is continuing with epidemiological investigations of the cases. Please refer to the Annex and the "COVID-19 Thematic Website" (www.coronavirus.gov.hk) for more information.

     The CHP has been closely monitoring the situation of positive cases involving mutant strains by genetic analysis. As of 0.00am, December 22, the DH's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch (PHLSB) had identified 226 cases of sub-lineage XBB, six of XBD, eight of BA.2.75.2, seven of BA.4.6, 13 of BF.7 and 38 of BQ.1.1 among imported cases in Hong Kong, while 152 cases of sub-lineage XBB, 18 of XBD, one of BA.2.75.2, 11 of BF.7 and 178 of BQ.1.1 have also been detected among local cases.

     Among the specimens received by the DH's PHLSB during December 13 to 19 for verification testing of local cases, 0 per cent and about 52.19 per cent of them (seven-day moving average) are related to the sub-lineages BA.2.12.1 and BA.4/BA.5 (including suspected cases) of the Omicron mutant strain respectively.

     In addition, as of 0.00am, December 22, a total of 11 114 death cases that had tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus during the fifth wave (since December 31, 2021) were recorded, with 11 008 and 102 deaths reported from the Hospital Authority and public mortuaries respectively as well as four deaths reported from private hospitals. Hong Kong has so far recorded a total of 11 327 death cases that tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

     Furthermore, among the earlier cases by nucleic acid tests reported, there were cases (including pending cases) changed to confirmed, asymptomatic or re-positive cases. As at yesterday (December 21), the total number of confirmed cases was 491 240, while the figures for asymptomatic cases, re-positive cases and pending/unknown cases recorded since January 1 were 382 197, 31 and 249 990 respectively.

     The spokesman for the CHP said that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe cases and deaths from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They can provide effective protection to those vaccinated in preventing serious complications and even death after infection. People who have yet to receive vaccination, especially senior citizens, chronic patients, children and other immunocompromised persons who face a higher chance of death after COVID-19 infection, should get vaccinated as early as possible for self-protection and to reduce the risk of falling seriously ill and death should they get infected.

     The CHP appeals to the community to keep on maintaining personal hygiene and comply with social distancing measures in order to jointly contain the risk of virus transmission. The spokesman reminded members of the public that they can call various hotlines to make enquiries on COVID-19 (www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/index.html#hotline).
Ends/Thursday, December 22, 2022
Issued at HKT 17:25
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