HK third wave: new social-distancing rules could take a week to work, source says, as about 50 new Covid-19 cases recorded for third straight day

16-Jul-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong racked up its third straight day of about 50 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, as a medical source said the government’s strict new social-distancing measures could take at least a week to work.

According to the source, almost 50 confirmed or preliminary cases were recorded in the city on the day the rules, which include making wearing a mask on public transport mandatory, came into effect.

On Monday and Tuesday, the city recorded 41 and 40 local infections respectively, and of those, half of the cases were untraceable.

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It was not immediately clear how many local and imported cases there were on Wednesday.

Earlier, two health experts called for elderly people and the chronically ill to undergo virus testing before being admitted into Hong Kong hospitals, after three patients on a general ward were infected with Covid-19.

Both Dr David Hui Shu-cheong and Professor Yuen Kwok-yung also told a Wednesday morning radio programme that symptoms among older people might be less obvious than in younger patients, because many of them already suffered from other diseases.

At least three patients in a general ward in Queen Elisabeth Hospital, in Yau Ma Tei, were confirmed as having the virus as of Tuesday evening, with the infections believed to have originated from a 92-year-old woman who showed signs of heart disease but no fever when admitted.

“For patients who are high risk, such as elderly people and those with chronic diseases, even if they are admitted to the hospital for various reasons [other than the virus], it is better to get them tested for Covid-19 for safety purposes,” Hui, an expert in respiratory medicine at Chinese University, said.

Hong Kong recorded 48 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infections to 1,569, with eight related deaths. Between last Monday and this Tuesday, a total of 78 of 222 local infections have been untraceable.

Hui said as nearly 40 per cent of local infections were of unknown origin, the virus had already “found its way into the community”.

“Patients who are admitted into the hospital may already carry the virus,” he said. “Some elderly people may also not have immediate symptoms.”

But Hui added that as patients in the same ward at Queen Elisabeth Hospital had now been tested, the risk of a further spread there was not high. Still, he said it was worrying that similar situations could happen at other public hospitals.

Yuen, a top infectious disease expert at the University of Hong Kong, agreed that high-risk patients should be tested for the virus before being admitted.

“Many elderly may also have chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases,” he said. “When they get infected by the virus, their heart or lung conditions may get worse. Doctors may believe it was more related to their chronic illnesses than linking it with Covid-19.

“But whether virus tests can be implemented on every single patient being admitted to hospitals, [at this stage] we do not have the necessary resources to do so.”

Dr Arisina Ma Chung-yee, president of the Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association, also agreed testing should be carried out for most elderly patients, but was concerned that public hospitals had insufficient quarantine facilities for those waiting for test results.


Category: Hong Kong

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