HK Covid-19 cases rise to 410; LKF band infection cluster swells

March 26, 2020 12:48
A person walks outside an almost empty pub area in Lan Kwai Fong on March 20 following the novel coronavirus outbreak. Authorities have reported more infections linked to popular nighttime activities in the area. Photo: Reuters

Twenty-four people tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, taking the total number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in Hong Kong to 410, plus one probable case.

Among the newly confirmed patients, who comprised 13 males and 11 females, 19 had travel history during the incubation period, with six of them being young people studying overseas.

The victims' ages ranged from 11 to 57, according to the Centre for Health Protection (CHP).

Three of the new confirmed cases had links to a music band that has seen most of its members fall victim to the virus, taking the cluster’s total to 13.

They included one member of the band, which performs often at restaurants and bars in the Lan Kwai Fong (LKF) nightlife area in Central, an employee of a drinking establishment at which the band had performed and a 38-year-old male pilot who had patronized the same outlet.

With the latest confirmed infection, the band has seen eight of its nine to 10 members test positive for Covid-19 so far.

As for the pilot who fell sick, he is said to be a Cathay Pacific Airways employee. He was found to have visited a bar named Insomnia in LKF on March 17 and another outlet named All Night Long in Tsim Sha Tsui the next day, officials said.

The CHP’s investigation revealed that two patients confirmed earlier, the 182nd case and the 227th case, had also been to Insomnia -- which is now closed -- during the incubation period.  

Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the CHP’s Communicable Disease Branch, told a daily briefing that the same LKF band had also performed at All Night Long.

Asked about the name of the band and the schedules of its past performance, Chuang refused to disclose the information on the ground of privacy, only saying that the group had performed at multiple venues.

The official called on people who had been to the concerned bars recently to pay attention to their health condition and seek medical advice as soon as possible if symptoms develop.

In related news, the police force confirmed on Wednesday that a female officer, 22, who is stationed at Sham Shui Po Police Station, preliminarily tested positive for Covid-19 after being sent to hospital on Tuesday for feeling unwell.

The officer had no recent travel history and was not involved in any frontline duties, the police said.

Meanwhile, another cluster linked to the Cheung Lung Industrial Building in Cheung Sha Wan had one more Covid-19 case on Wednesday. The latest victim is a 57-year-old woman who had no recent travel history, taking the cluster's total to four.

In a radio program on Wednesday, Dr. Ho Pak-leung, director of the University of Hong Kong’s Carol Yu Centre for Infection, urged the government to take curfew-level measures in the fight against the virus, saying the most important thing is to effectively prevent public gatherings.

If additional steps are not taken, the crisis could worsen and the public healthcare system could collapse, Ho warned.

Dr. Ho Chung-ping, president of the Hong Kong Medical Association, also suggested that the government should enhance the anti-pandemic strategies, including ordering all Hong Kong residents returning from overseas to be quarantined in hotels for 14 days.

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