Coronavirus fears spread to HK employees at bank, telecoms company and fashion boutique, as staff on self-quarantine after close contact with confirmed cases

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

Bank and telecommunication employees, as well as staff at a boutique fashion outlet in Hong Kong are among people in self-quarantine following contact with confirmed coronavirus cases, as the city scrambles to contain the outbreak.

At fashion store Fendi in Times Square, located in the busy shopping hub of Causeway Bay, fears set in after an employee’s sister was diagnosed with the illness. They had last interacted on January 26, but do not live together.

News of the relationship spread across online platforms, with the Italian fashion house closing its store for sanitation on Wednesday. Some staff members were seen back at work in the morning, but all left in the afternoon, with items at the boutique taken off shelves.

“Times Square has already requested the shop to require all staff to self-quarantine immediately,” said a spokeswoman for the mall, adding that it had comprehensively strengthened sanitation measures.

Separately, 25 employees in the back office of the Bank of East Asia building in Kwun Tong were put on self-quarantine at home, after it was found that two of them previously had close contact with a confirmed case, according to the bank.

A spokeswoman said the bank sought medical consultation, and cleansing measures extended to the whole office, including on related floors, the staff canteen and lifts.

A source said the two employees in question were friends of a 25-year-old man, the city’s youngest case, confirmed with the coronavirus on Tuesday. All three had met on Sunday.

Another source familiar with the matter said the patient worked as a customer service officer at China Mobile’s headquarters at Kowloon Commerce Centre in Kwai Chung.

He added that the man, who worked on the 19th floor, only took calls and did not attend to customers face to face. It was believed he had no travel history.

The telecommunications company confirmed that the case involved one of its employees in that office, in a statement on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, at Site 11, Block 1 of Whampoa Garden, where a 39-year-old resident became Hong Kong’s first fatality linked to the outbreak, some had resorted to cyberbullying and discrimination against the victim’s family members, according to a representative of a homeowners’ committee.

A woman who only gave her surname as Yau, who is a committee member in the same block, told the Post: “There was a lot of fake information circulating in different chat groups, attacking the man and his brother, as their mother was also diagnosed with the disease.”

It was earlier reported that the dead man had an older brother who lives three levels lower in the same block. Neighbours earlier said the latter had left rather than face quarantine, sparking panic within the community.

“We are now asking the Home Affairs Department to provide help for the two families of the brothers. We are afraid they will be discriminated against when they end their quarantine.”

Yau said fake information included claims the elder brother was a policeman and that the children of the dead patient were not quarantined. Pictures of the young ones were circulated in parents’ groups.

However, officials from the Department of Health confirmed the two children had been quarantined with their mother and a domestic helper.

“Such cyberbullying causes escalating panic and should be stopped,” Yau said.

“We are joining other homeowner representatives to urge neighbours to be kind. The two families are victims too. The kids are just between the ages of three and five, and they have lost their father.”

A cleaner at the block said she was also discriminated against by neighbours.

“When someone realised I worked there, they would avoid me and disinfect their clothes immediately with spray. That makes me very sad,” she said.

As of Wednesday, Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection said people under home quarantine were confined to 71 buildings in all 18 districts of Hong Kong, up from 24 premises from Tuesday.

The centre published a list of mostly residential buildings, but also included two university lodgings, a unit inside an industrial building and rural villages.

The list also stated the end dates of the 14-day quarantine for each case.

The government said earlier Hong Kong residents returning from Hubei must wear electronic wristbands and be confined to their homes for two weeks.


Category: Hong Kong

Print This Post

Comments are closed.