Wife and colleague of a patient among new HK Covid-19 cases

February 18, 2020 13:14
The Hospital Authority says it will continue to work with the CHP on following up on new cases of coronavirus infection in Hong Kong, with total confirmed cases in the city now standing at 60. Photo: HKEJ

Hong Kong authorities said on Monday that three more people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) infection, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the city to 60.

Among the newly added cases is one involving a 46-year-old woman (60th case) and a 45-year-old man (59th case).

The woman is the wife of a sick man, 54, who was confirmed on Sunday with the infection (57th case), while the new male patient is a colleague of the 54-year-old man, according to the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) under the Department of Health.

Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the CHP’s Communicable Disease Branch, told a news conference that the 45-year-old man and the 54-year-old person work at the same company but on different floors in a building.

The two saw each other from time to time and therefore were considered close contacts.

According to Chuang, the 45-year-old man, who lives in Tsz Wan Shan, developed fever and sore throat since Feb. 12 and consulted a private doctor on Feb. 13.

The man sought medical attention at Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Monday and was admitted for treatment, before his respiratory samples tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Although the 45-year-old man had travelled to Da Nang, Vietnam during the incubation period from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, Chuang noted that it was quite some time ago and hence there was a lower chance that he got infected there.

His wife and three daughters living with him are all asymptomatic, the doctor added.

The government said in a press release issued on Monday night that the patient’s wife and three daughters would be arranged for quarantine.

As for the 46-year-old woman (60th case), she mainly works at home, Chuang said.

As for the 58th confirmed case, it involves a 69-year-old man who lives in Tseung Kwan O and had no travel history during the incubation period, Chuang said.

The elderly man developed cough on Feb. 8 and consulted a private doctor three times between Feb. 8 and 13, Chuang said.

Later, he sought medical attention on Feb. 15 at the Cheung Sha Wan Jockey Club General Outpatient Clinic for persistent cough.

After being referred to the Caritas Medical Centre and admitted for medical treatment, his respiratory samples tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Chuang said.

Meanwhile, reports say the 57th and the 59th confirmed patients, both engineers, attended a meeting held at the HA’s head office on Argyle Street in Kowloon City on Feb. 6, raising concerns that they might have passed the virus to the other attendees, who included the HA representatives and a few dozen people from other construction firms.

Confirming the incident, Dr. Lau Ka-hin, HA's chief manager for quality and standards, told media that the 59th confirmed patient in fact attended another meeting on Feb. 7 and the two meetings, each lasting roughly 15 to 20 minutes, involved five of the HA’s employees.

According to the official, all the participants in the meetings had worn face masks during the events.

In a press release issued on Monday night, a HA spokesperson said in response to media inquiries that one of the staff members who participated only in the meeting on Feb. 7 had sore throat on Monday evening.

The person would be “sent to the hospital for the test of novel coronavirus”, the spokesperson said, adding that no other staff members “have expressed feeling discomfort”.

The HA will "continue to work with the CHP to follow up on the cases”, the person said.

In another press release issued Tuesday morning, the HA said the employee who attended the Feb. 7 meeting had been sent to a hospital for tests on Monday night.

"His laboratory test result was negative to novel coronavirus. No other HA staff participating in the meeting has reported discomfort,” a spokesperson said.

Asked by media why the HA did not disclose the meetings to the public at Sunday’s press conference, Lau claimed that it was because there was no detailed information at that time and because the meetings were held before the two patients showed symptoms of infection.

According to Chuang, a total of 15 people attended the Feb. 6 meeting and investigations are underway.

In related news, a confirmed patient’s foreign domestic helper, 32, was reported to have been preliminarily confirmed to be infected with the novel coronavirus. 

The maid is said to be undergoing treatment at the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital.

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