HK third wave: 115 new Covid-19 cases emerge and elderly patient dies

03-Aug-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 10:27 AM Print This Post

Daily coronavirus infections in Hong Kong continued to stretch into the triple digits as 115 cases emerged on Sunday, while an elderly man became the city’s 34th fatality of the pandemic.

But none of the infections were imported, the first time since June 16 that arrivals were not part of the daily tally, an absence that comes after the government closed loopholes relating to incoming sea crews and pilots.

The government is set to extend its latest round of stepped up social-distancing measures another week in an attempt to break local chains of transmission. Of the new infections, at least 58 were tied to gatherings of family or friends, while 36 were untraced.

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While the daily numbers have surpassed 100 for 12 straight days, the last three days have seen the figures fall slightly. But a top health official cautioned it was too early to draw conclusions.

“There may be fluctuations in the daily number [of infections],” said Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Centre for Health Protection’s communicable disease branch. “We have seen ups and downs in the past week.”

The cases take the city’s overall tally to 3,511, while at least 50 people have tested preliminary positive.

The latest fatality was a 94-year-old patient with chronic diseases who was admitted to Queen Mary Hospital with a cough and runny nose on July 14, a spokesman said. His condition deteriorated and he died at 12.54pm.

The government has this past week ramped up its strategy to contain the third wave of the pandemic.

Under new measures that took effect last Wednesday, aircrew must take a virus test before they fly and have proof of a negative result, while ships without any cargo trade via the city are no longer allowed to make crew changes during their stop.

Recently tightened social-distancing measures that limit public gatherings to two people and ban restaurant dine-in services between 6pm and 5am will also be extended, sources told the Post. The measures, originally scheduled to expire on Tuesday, will be prolonged given the run of triple-digit daily infections, according to a source.

The Hospital Authority revealed 31 patients had been admitted to the city’s first Covid-19 makeshift hospital at the AsiaWorld-Expo centre near the airport. The facility is designed to relieve pressure on the public health system as the coronavirus crisis worsens.

We will evaluate the procedures and we hope the public can understand that AsiaWorld-Expo is a brand new facility

Dr Sara Ho, Hospital Authority

But one woman was mistakenly admitted to the facility, despite no record of testing positive for the coronavirus. Throughout the stay, she was in her own ward and did not have contact with other patients, the authority said. She was transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital and tested negative again.

“We will evaluate the procedures and we hope the public can understand that AsiaWorld-Expo is a brand new facility,” said Dr Sara Ho Yuen-ha, the authority’s chief manager for patient safety and risk management. “We know busy and hectic schedules should not be excuses.”

The authority later issued an apology over the incident.

Among the newly infected was a doctor at Union Hospital, but the patient had stopped going to work three days before the onset of symptoms, so it was believed the case was unrelated to the workplace.

Seven cases were tied to a store operated by Star Global, an online retailer with physical outlets across the city, at Yee On Court on Argyle Street in Kowloon, taking the total there to 24. Another infected person, who went to Cheung Chau island on July 24 with several of the company’s employees, was among the newly infected.

Four others were linked to construction sites in Man Kam To in Sheung Shui, taking the tally of that cluster to eight. Health authorities plan to further investigate whether environmental contamination was responsible.

The authority has started to trace close contacts of a doctor at the Caritas Medical Centre who tested preliminary positive on Saturday. A 87-year-old patient in the general ward has been confirmed infected, taking its total to four.

“We are very concerned… but after we evaluated their epidemiological links, it is believed that the doctor’s infection was linked to his family rather than the patients,” Ho said.

The three other patients had no contact with each other and stayed in different rooms in the ward, so officials believed they were not infected at the hospital. Three other doctors have been identified as close contacts, and the authority has temporarily suspended service in the ward.

Separately, a man fled Tseung Kwan O Hospital around 7.30pm on Saturday after learning he tested preliminary positive. He returned about an hour later and was admitted to an isolation ward.


Category: Hong Kong

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