Coronavirus: 100 Hongkongers still stuck in Japan after third airlift for Diamond Princess cruise passengers

25-Feb-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

About 100 Hongkongers were still in limbo in Japan on Sunday uncertain when they could get home, even as a third chartered flight returned more residents from the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The Cathay Pacific flight CX8547 repatriating five locals and most of the government staff overseeing the evacuation arrived at Hong Kong International Airport at 6.10am.

Their temperatures were taken inside the aircraft before they were allowed to disembark. The evacuees were then taken straight to the Chun Yeung Estate in Fo Tan for a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

A total of 193 Hongkongers, as well as two Macau citizens, have been brought home on three flights arranged by the Hong Kong government, the first of which landed on Thursday.

But some 100 Hong Kong cruise passengers 70 infected with the deadly coronavirus and about 30 classed as their close contacts were still in Japan on Sunday.

A 71-year-old infected Hong Kong resident, surnamed Chan, said he was recovering but feared for his wife, who although tested negative for Covid-19 was in quarantine, and had an unrelated heart problem.

Speaking on Sunday from a bed in Tokyo’s Chiba East Hospital, Chan said doctors expected him to be well again within two weeks. As a close contact of an infected person, his wife has been quarantined at a university campus in Japan.

“My wife has not been eating. She threw up every time she tried to eat. She’s very weak,” Chan said.

“She has problems with her heart. I fear she could faint any time and die.

“She was so weak she could hardly walk. She needs medication for her heart but I don’t know how much more she has left.”

Chan hoped the government could send his wife home on another chartered flight as soon as possible.

A Japanese health officer on Saturday told her she could return on the chartered flight only to be informed later that was a mistake and she would instead be transferred to the university campus.

The government has not given a direct answer on whether it would charter more flights to send those close contacts home.

Speaking at the airport on his return, director of Immigration Erick Tsang Kwok-wai dismissed accusations the government had not done all it could to help the infected Hongkongers.

“It was not that we didn’t help them. There were cases when we have in fact been to the hospitals but didn’t manage to see them because they were receiving treatment or were isolated. Thus they might not even know [government officers were there],” Tsang said on Sunday morning.

He said the government had handed over SIM cards and other useful items so those still in Japan could call upon civil servants for support.

Ten more government officers on Sunday flew to Japan to help those remaining in the country, while more visits would be made to those infected patients in hospital, Tsang added.

A total of 364 Hong Kong residents were stuck on the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined from February 4 off the port of Yokohama, after passengers contracted the coronavirus.

A 68-year-old man, who flew back on the first chartered flight on Thursday, was confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus.

Those considered close contacts of the infected, who remain in Japan, have for days pleaded with the Hong Kong government to let them come home.

At the airport on Sunday, Dr Bonnie Wong Chun-kwan, a senior medical and health officer from the Department of Health, said her team had contacted six or seven patients she described as more seriously ill.

“The patients couldn’t tell us their condition and the treatment they had received. But we contacted their doctors and family members. I believe they have been receiving suitable treatment in Japan,” she said.

Highlighting the case of an infected couple, she said the husband’s condition had declined but the wife’s was stable. When he needed to be sent to another hospital, she was also transferred to keep them together.

“When I visited them at the hospital, we met an infectious disease specialist there who explained to us the patients’ treatment. It’s in line with how we would treat them in Hong Kong,” Wong said.

She added the Japanese government had been offering comprehensive support to the infected Hongkongers.


Category: Japan

Print This Post