Tai koo Shing resident infected with virus

Top News | Jane Cheung 17 Feb 2020

A man who lives Tai Koo Shing was confirmed with the coronavirus after consulting doctors six times before being admitted to a hospital eight days after the onset of symptoms.

That came as the number of local cases of Covid-19 reached 57.

The 52-year-old man, who developed a fever and cough on February 7, went to a Taikoo Shing private doctor on four occasions.

His wife also was being tested for the virus while at least 20 others who went to a church gathering in Shau Kei Wan that the man also attended were being traced as close contacts.

The man, a structural engineer working at an architectural and engineering firm in North Point, lives in Ming Kung Mansion. He had also gone to the accident and emergency department of the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan twice but was only admitted there on his second visit on Saturday. A chest X-ray from his first visit on February 10 had shown his lungs clear.

Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Centre for Health Protection's communicable disease unit, said the man went to a private doctor on February 7 then last Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

"He was seen by the doctor on February 7 and 13. He was advised to go to hospital on February 10 and 15 because he had a fever."

On why the man was not tested for the virus in his first visit to the hospital, Chuang said he had no travel history and the scan had shown his lungs clear.

"Patients may appear to be suffering from a common cold or influenza as they only have a fever and respiratory symptoms," she said. "It is hard for doctors to detect if they don't have a travel record or contact history or linkage with diagnosed patients."

Sara Ho Yuen-ha, the Hospital Authority's chief manager for patient safety and risk management, said although the man did not fulfill a requirement to be reported to the Department of Health doctors had collected a respiratory specimen and tested him for the virus after the chest scan on his second visit showed signs of pneumonia.

"Hospitals have adopted an enhanced surveillance program to run tests on suspected cases who don't meet the reporting criteria," she said. "So far, 18 confirmed have been detected through this initiative."

General surgeon William Ko Chi-fai, who has a private clinic at Taikoo Shing, said the man "came to me four times in a week." Now he was closing his clinic and having it disinfected.

On whether private doctors should refer all feverish patients to public hospitals, Chuang said that would create too much of a burden on the hospital.

"But doctors should heighten alertness if patients are sick for a long period and suffer from shortness of breath," she said.

The man's wife, who has suffered from a runny nose and cough since February 8, is now also in Eastern Hospital awaiting test results.

Chuang also said the man had not been to work since he fell ill but he attended the Christian Gospel Disciples Church in Fu Yan Court, Shau Kei Wan, on February 9.

News of the case worried residents in the private estate, which has 61 blocks of flats. A resident said his family was in a panic after word of the case began spreading after midnight yesterday. "My daughter even forbade me from going out," he said.

And at Ming Kung Mansion, cleaners in protective gear were wiping floors, walls and doors.

Meanwhile, a second recovered patient was discharged from Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai yesterday after a 25-year-old man went home on Wednesday.

The latest discharged patient fell sick on January 30, was admitted to the hospital on February 8 and confirmed with the virus next day.

He was the first confirmed patient among 11 people who attended a family hotpot gathering on the second day of the Lunar New Year. Ten relatives aged from 23 to 91 remain in hospital.

Among 57 confirmed cases a 39-year-old diabetic man died this month and two have now been discharged.

Among the 54 remaining in nine hospitals, three men aged from 42 to 70 and two woman 65 and 68 are in critical condition. Two men, 70 and 71, are in serious condition and the other 47 are stable.

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