Another 23 elderly-home residents stricken

Top News | Jane Cheung 10 Jul 2020

Twenty-three more residents of the Kong Tai elderly home in Wong Tai Sin were found to be infected with Covid-19 yesterday - meaning 28 of its 37 residents have the disease, the Centre for Health Protection says.

The city's first elderly home affected by Covid-19 earlier saw four of 18 staff infected, prompting the health authority to advise care homes not to share employees to prevent spread.

The center's head of communicable disease branch, Chuang Shuk-kwan, said all residents of the elderly home on Yuk Wah Crescent, Tsz Wan Shan, have been moved to quarantine centers, with most of them staying at Pok Fu Lam PHAB camp.

Seventeen men and six women aged 67 to 95 were confirmed with Covid-19 yesterday. Six showed respiratory symptoms, including fever and coughs, while 17 were asymptomatic.

At least two of them had chronic diseases. Chuang said previously most of the residents of the elderly home have low mobility.

Asked about health policies at elderly homes, Chuang said: "Elderly centers are advised not to share workers and to ban visitors. But they are just guidelines, not rigid rules."

The center shares workers with another center above the same building and two or three visitors also visited their relatives in the center, while a few mobile residents were allowed to go out.

The Hospital Authority's chief manager for quality and standards, Lau Ka-hin, said out-patient elderly and psychiatric services at public hospitals will be suspended from today to spare manpower for the frontline, in case of large-scale spread.

Despite allowing visitors for non-emergency hospitals last month, such arrangements have been suspended again to minimize infection risks to patients, he said.

Many homes have already stopped allowing residents to go out to minimize infection risks, industry veterans said.

Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said he worried that mainland migrant workers hired by elderly care homes could become silent carriers of Covid-19, potentially spreading the virus from one center to another.

"Many workers serve more than one care home, and they live in extremely crowded dorms," Cheung said. "The situation is really not sanitary."

Hong Kong yesterday also recorded two local infections from unknown sources, including a 94-year-old man living with his wife in Tsz Wan Shan's On Hong House in Tsz On home ownership estate.

Chuang said the man developed fever and nausea on Wednesday.

The man's daily routine included a wet market in Tsz Wan Shan Center and a recreational area near his building but nothing pointed to contact history with confirmed patients.

Another case involved a 58-year-old woman living at Wing Loong Building in Cheung Sha Wan.

"The only clue we know is that she mostly took a taxi in running errands. But we are still asking if she has taken a taxi with infected drivers," she said.

Yesterday the center confirmed eight imported cases, including three cargo-flight pilots and a flight attendant, three of whom had been to Kazakhstan. A three-month-old baby, also from Kazakhstan, whose mother was a confirmed case on Wednesday, also was confirmed with Covid-19.

Two domestic helpers arriving at Chek Lap Kok Airport on Wednesday by Hong Kong Airlines HX782 from Manila and a 52-year-old man from Pakistan on Emirates EK380 on Tuesday tested positive.

Meanwhile, the health code to facilitate quarantine-free travel for business and medical purposes among Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong province will be postponed to August as Hong Kong has recently seen a resurgence of local infections, sources said.

The clinical director of Macau's public Conde de Sao Januario Hospital Centre, Alvis Lo Iek-long, said entry curbs between the two SARs could be relaxed only when their Covid-19 situations were similar.

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