Two more temple-linked cases bring Covid-19 infections to 93

February 28, 2020 13:33
The Centre for Health Protection said there are now 14 confirmed Covid-19 infections related to Fook Wai Ching She, a Buddhist temple inside a residential building in North Point. Photo: HKEJ

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) under the Department of Health said two more people tested positive for novel coronavirus (Covid-19) infection, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the city to 93.

Both cases are associated with the cluster related to Fook Wai Ching She, a Buddhist temple at Maylun Apartments on Shu Kuk Street in North Point, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

A 70-year-old woman (the 92nd case) with underlying illness who lives in Block 4 of Bauhinia Garden in Tseung Kwan O developed coughing with sputum on Feb. 13, and consulted a private doctor on Feb. 13 and Feb. 23.

After calling the CHP hotline on Wednesday, she was admitted to United Christian Hospital (UCH), where her respiratory sample tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday.

The patient, who is now in a stable condition, had no travel history during the incubation period, but she visited the temple in North Point on Jan. 24 and 25 and every day from Feb. 1 to 8.

Her son who lives with her was also transferred to UCH for treatment after developing symptoms. Her daughter-in-law and grandson, both asymptomatic, will be placed under quarantine, according to a government press release issued on Thursday night.

The second case (93rd) involved an 89-year-old woman who lives alone in Hung Fuk Building in North Point. She has been having occasional coughs since Tuesday and sought medical attention the next day at Anne Black General Out-patient Clinic, where she was added to the Enhanced Laboratory Surveillance Programme.

After her saliva specimen tested positive for Covid-19 virus on Thursday, she was admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. She is now in a stable condition.

The patient, who had no travel history during the incubation period, visited the temple on Jan. 25 and several times between Feb. 1 and 12.

Together with other previously confirmed patients, the total number of Covid-19 infections linked to the temple has increased to 14.

Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the CHP’s Communicable Disease Branch, told a press briefing that 221 people who had visited the temple have called the CHP hotline as of Thursday.

About 20 of them were sent to hospitals, 35 were placed under quarantine, while others were waiting for their test results, Chuang said.

She said the source of the cluster of infections related to the North Point temple had not been found yet.

The health official also voiced concern that she still sees too many people on the streets. The situation in the city remains critical so people should avoid crowds and gatherings as much as possible, she said.

They should not assume that they'll be protected just by wearing face masks, she added.

“There are still cases with unknown sources in the community. I cannot predict when the outbreak will die out. But we’re trying every effort to contain and delay the spread of the infection in the community,” RTHK quoted Chuang as saying.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said its personnel, after receiving a referral from the Department of Health, picked up a dog belonging to a patient infected with Covid-19 from a residential flat in Tai Hang on Wednesday and sent it to an animal keeping facility at the Hong Kong Port of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.

Although the dog does not have any relevant symptoms, its nasal and oral cavity samples tested "weak positive" for Covid-19, an AFCD spokesman said in a press release, adding that it is the only animal currently at the facility.

The dog is owned by a confirmed coronavirus patient, a 60-year-old woman.

The AFCD stressed that it has no evidence at present that pet animals can be infected with the virus and can be a source of infection to people.

The department will continue to closely monitor the dog and collect further samples for testing to confirm if it really has been infected or if the initial result was just due to environmental contamination of its mouth and nose, the spokesman said.

Pets of other infected patients should also be placed under quarantine, he added.

On Friday morning, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said the AFCD currently does not have sufficient evidence showing how the dog was infected. She also said there is no evidence that the dog has transmitted the virus to humans.

The dog is under quarantine at the animal keeping facility at the Hong Kong Port of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, Chan said.

Further samples from the dog will be collected, and the dog will only be returned when the test result is negative, she added.

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