Nine new coronavirus cases confirmed after family hotpot meal

February 10, 2020 11:45
Personnel of the Centre for Health Protection in protective clothing conduct quarantine work at a party room in an industrial building in Kwun Tong on Sunday. Photo: RTHK

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) under the Department of Health has reported 10 more confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus infection, bringing the total number in the city to 36, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Among the newly added patients, nine were relatives from three family clusters that attended a hotpot meal in a party room in Kwun Tong.

According to a government press release late Sunday night, a 24-year-old man who lives in Wan Chai developed fever and cough since Jan. 30 and sought medical attention from a private doctor on the same day.

The 24-year-old man consulted another private doctor on Feb. 4 and sought treatment at St Paul’s Hospital’s Outpatient Department on Feb. 6.

He then sought medical attention at the Accident and Emergency Department of Ruttonjee Hospital and was admitted for isolation and management on Feb. 8. Consequently, his respiratory sample tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the government said, adding that the man is in stable condition.

The 24-year-old man’s information showed he had no travel history during the incubation period.

The man and 18 of his relatives attended a family hot pot meal in a venue called Lento Party Room in an industrial building in Kwun Tong on Jan. 26 to mark the Lunar New Year.

Besides the man, the respiratory samples of eight of his relatives later tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and they were admitted for isolation and management at Ruttonjee Hospital and Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, the government said.

Among the 18 relatives, two more have shown symptoms and are currently confined at Prince of Wales Hospital for treatment.

Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the CHP's Communicable Disease Branch, told a press conference on Sunday that a total of 19 people attended the hotpot meal, with two relatives from Guangdong province.

The CHP is seeking help from the party room to track other people who may have contact with them.

The 10th case involved a 70-year-old man who resides in Ngau Chi Wan. The 70-year-old man developed cough, chills and shortness of breath since Jan. 30 and diarrhea since Feb. 1, according to the government press release.

He had consulted two private doctors from Feb. 1 to 7 and went to the United Christian Hospital (UCH) on Feb. 8 for persistent chills and shortness of breath. He was admitted at UCH for isolation and management, the government said.

The man is in stable condition after his respiratory sample tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the government said.

The man's information showed he had no travel history during the incubation period.

Chuang said that, initially, the cases of 2019-nCoV infection that have been confirmed are mainly imported.

But she noted that since more and more infected patients are not involved with high-risk factors and some of them may not necessarily seek medical attention for their mild symptoms, health authorities are having difficulties in isolating all suspected cases and tracing close contacts.

She said placing all patients under quarantine could at most delay the spread of the disease, but not completely stop it in its tracks.

Chuang reminded members of the public to avoid taking part in gatherings, and try to keep any gatherings short.

“Because we are in a situation where we would like to prevent a community-wide outbreak, so I would suggest we should avoid large dinner gatherings or lunch gatherings with friends or relatives. If it is necessary, for those who have symptoms such as fever or respiratory symptoms, they should avoid participating in these kinds of gatherings,” she said.

Dr. Lau Ka-hin, the Hospital Authority’s chief manager (quality and standards), told the same news conference that it is a criminal offense if patients conceal their medical history or travel history from doctors of public hospitals.

The systems at Accident and Emergency Departments of hospitals and those used by the Immigration Department are synchronized and all Hong Kong residents’ travel records within the past 30 days can be checked, Lau added.

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