HK Covid-19 cases top 300; wedding-linked infections jump to 8

March 23, 2020 13:15
Following a jump in Covid-19 cases, health officials urged people to stay on guard and maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.  Photo: HKEJ

Hong Kong recorded a large spike in Covid-19 cases over the weekend, with many of the newly confirmed patients found to have had travel history during the incubation or infectious periods of the virus.

Announcing the new cases, health officials called on citizens to keep their guard up and maintain social distancing, warning that isolation beds in public hospitals are almost fully occupied.

According to the Health Department's Centre for Health Protection (CHP), 61 people had tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the past two days, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Hong Kong to 317, plus one probable case.

Newly added cases reported on Saturday involved five males and 12 females aged between 11 and 70. Among them, 13 had travel history during the incubation period.

The new cases rose further in number on Sunday, to 44, involving 28 males and 16 females. Among those victims, whose ages ranged from one to 72, 29 had travel history during the incubation period.

Four of the new cases reported on Sunday had connections to a wedding banquet held at Discovery Bay on March 14, an event that was already linked to some cases uncovered earlier. 

The latest persons who tested positive were the 31-year-old groom, the wedding’s master of ceremonies, and the daughter and father of one female guest who attended the event.

The female guest is suspected to have passed on the infection to her daughter and father who did not attend the banquet themselves.

Together with the four cases confirmed earlier, the banquet has seen eight of its attendees contract Covid-19.

It is said that one of the eight people, a female, visited Lan Kwai Fong, a popular nightlife destination in Central, with two of her friends a day before the banquet, and they all became confirmed patients subsequently.

Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the CHP’s Communicable Disease Branch, told a daily briefing on Sunday that authorities, through the wedding organizer, are trying to determine if there were any other close contacts or any symptomatic attendees.

The Lan Kwai Fong area was found to be linked to multiple local cases, including four on Sunday.

Chuang said the relevant individuals aren't deemed as cluster cases, noting that the four people did not know each other and that the bars they had visited were different. 

Still, she urged people to avoid all high-risk activities such as talking to others in close range and drinking in a bar.

Among other cases were two teaching staff members of Mount Kelly School. One of the teachers was said to have accompanied seven students to Switzerland between Feb. 28 and March 8.

In response to media inquiries, the school said the seven students have tested negative for Covid-19, hence there is no reason to believe that the teachers contracted the virus from the group.

Following the cases, thorough disinfection has been done on campus, the school said.

Taking about two other cases which involved people working for the same company in an industrial building in Cheung Sha Wan, Chuang said the possibility of a small-scale outbreak cannot be ruled out. The official did not disclose the firm's identity.

Among other newly confirmed Covid-19 cases, one involved the father of a nurse who works at the general medical ward at Yan Chai hospital. The man was said to have traveled to Turkey in early March with his daughter.

The nurse returned to work early last week. The hospital said although the employee did not show any symptoms, she would still be quarantined.

In related news, several media reports cited sources as suggesting that at least 10 more people had preliminarily tested positive for Covid-19 as of Monday morning. The victims include a female doctor who was tasked recently with screening returning travelers at the Hong Kong airport, according to the reports.

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TL/JC/RC