December 6. The Omicron variant of the coronavirus appears to have spread between two fully vaccinated people who were staying in separate rooms across the hall from each other in a Hong Kong quarantine hotel, researchers say.
The early findings raise concerns about how transmissible the new variant may be.
Researchers at the University of Hong Kong announced the findings in an online research letter, which has not been finalized, in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal on Friday.
According to the research letter, one of the individuals arrived in Hong Kong from South Africa on November 11, while the second person arrived in the city from Canada a day earlier.
Both men were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with Pfizer’s two-dose shot and had tested negative for the virus within 72 hours before arrival in Hong Kong, the report said.
“On arrival at the Hong Kong airport, both case-patients stayed in the same quarantine hotel and had rooms across the corridor from each other on the same floor,” according to the research letter.
According to the research, which cited closed-circuit television camera footage, the individuals infected with Omicron never left their hotel rooms during the recent quarantine period.
“No items were shared between rooms, and other persons did not enter either room,” the report said, noting that the only time the two people opened their hotel doors was to collect food that was placed outside of each door.
“Airborne transmission across the corridor is the most probable mode of transmission,” the researchers wrote, adding that such a spread could hint the virus is more infectious.