Coronavirus: ‘small outbreak’ likely occurred at private HK hospital, health officials say, as city confirms 92 new infections

28-Nov-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A “small Covid-19 outbreak” likely occurred at a major private hospital after an elderly patient who tested preliminary positive died and two staff members were infected, health officials revealed on Friday, as the city confirmed 92 new coronavirus cases. The outbreak at the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital prompted the health authorities to review protective measures adopted at private facilities. The city’s hospital chiefs also raised concerns over an alarming spread of the virus in public health care institutions, after multiple infections were detected in a surging fourth wave of Covid-19 cases.

“As in July and August, community cases have once again surrounded hospitals… we are quite worried as it may lead to a spread in hospitals. We have alerted our colleagues to stay vigilant and must do anti-infection measures,” said Dr Linda Yu Wai-ling, a chief manager of the Hospital Authority.

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Seventy-two confirmed cases were linked to previous infections, including 58 tied to a growing dancing club cluster, the city’s largest to date with 367 patients.

Seventeen patients acquired the virus locally but without a known source, while three cases were imported. Friday’s cases took the city’s infection tally to 6,039, with 108 related deaths.

More than 60 people tested preliminary positive.

Health authorities believed a “small outbreak” took place at the sanatorium after a 77-year-old woman, who had been in the hospital since mid August for other illnesses, died after testing preliminary positive for the virus.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Centre for Health Protection’s communicable disease branch, said the patient had stayed in a single room on the 33rd floor of the hospital, and had a fever and shortness of breath on Wednesday.

Some family members and carers had visited her before but Chuang said further investigations would be needed to determine the route of transmission. Her case would not be added to the city’s Covid-19 death toll until her infection was confirmed after a second test.

A nurse, who was involved in resuscitation of the patient, and a support staff member working on the same floor also tested preliminary positive.

Chuang said that around 30 doctors and nurses would be sent to a quarantine camp, while 13 patients on the floor would undergo two-week isolation at the hospital as they could not be moved because of pre-existing illnesses.

A paediatric ward nurse in Princess Margaret Hospital who recently had a contact with a confirmed patient without wearing a mask and a patient admitted to Tuen Mun Hospital’s orthopaedic ward were also among preliminary positive cases.

Four babies treated by the nurse in the ward returned negative test results for the virus, while 20 other infants who did not have contact with her would also be tested.

The daily figure set a new high for the city’s fourth wave after a three-day run of 80 or more confirmed infections. It was also the highest daily count since 95 infections were logged on August 6, during the city’s third wave.

Debate was also raging on how to get infections back to zero after city leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor mentioned the ambitious target in her policy address this week.

The government has been under mounting pressure to achieve that goal to reopen the border with mainland China and reboot the economy.

Hong Kong’s health minister Sophia Chan Siu-chee said last Friday that the city had probably entered its fourth wave of the coronavirus crisis, warning the situation could deteriorate quickly without a firm response.


Category: Hong Kong

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