Blood donor tests positive but 'transmission unlikely'

Top News | Jane Cheung 14 Jul 2020

A blood donor was among 52 new infections yesterday - a single-day high since the pandemic began - and five restaurants were named as high-risk sources for community spread.

The new cases comprised 27 males and 25 females, aged from five months to 92 years old.

Eleven of them were imported, 21 were related to previous local cases and 20 were from unknown sources, taking the city's total tally to 1,522, of whom 1,217 have been discharged.

Among the cases was a 35-year-old male blood donor whose mother earlier tested positive after dining at Deluxe Cuisine.

The Hospital Authority's chief manager for quality and standards, Lau Ka-hin, said the man donated blood at the Red Cross West Kowloon Donor Centre between 3pm to 4.30pm on July 5 and one pack of his platelets was infused to a patient at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Jordan on Thursday.

"With reference to past experience during outbreaks of SARS, MERS, and a similar case of a blood donor subsequently diagnosed with Covid-19 in South Korea, the chances of the recipient contracting the infection through blood is very, very, very small," Lau said.

He said the recipient has so far remained asymptomatic but he has been transferred to an isolation ward and will be tested for Covid-19.

Asked if the Red Cross should suspend all blood donation services, Lau said: "There is always a chance for donors to be diagnosed with Covid-19 after the donation, but we must balance the risks and benefits.

"The blood bank is insufficient as fewer people have donated blood during the pandemic but the demand for blood has not reduced."

He said stringent measures have been used to screen donors since March.

However, infectious disease expert Leung Chi-chiu from the Hong Kong Medical Association emphasized that Covid-19 can be spread through blood.

"The virus can be transmitted if a large amount of infected blood is infused to another person," he said.

Hong Kong's death toll rose to eight after a 95-year-old female resident of Kong Tai elderly home in Tsz Wan Shan died from complications of Covid-19 at Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan last night.

The woman, who had a chronic disease, was stable when admitted to hospital on Friday but her condition worsened the next day.

Five eateries were named after more cases were linked to them, including three restaurants in Tsz Wan Shan Centre: nine patients from Green River Restaurant, three from Deluxe Cuisine and two from Windsor.

There were two infections from Lucky Dragon Palace Restaurant in Ngau Chi Wan's Choi Wan Commercial Complex, and four from Dim Sum Square on Sheung Wan's Hillier Street.

The Centre for Health Protection's head of communicable disease branch Chuang Shuk-kwan said these restaurants have seen clusters of infection, proving that transmission risk is much higher in eateries, where customers do not wear masks.

She called for those who have been to these restaurants to consult doctors upon the development of respiratory symptoms.

Asymptomatic customers can obtain bottles by e-mailing the center at bottle@dh.gov.hk with their name, residential address and date of visit.

Another locally contracted case from an unknown source is a 92-year-old woman who was admitted to Queen Elizabeth due to her chronic disease on Sunday.

She was not suffering from any symptoms and stayed at an internal medicine ward before testing positive and transferring to an isolation ward.

Lau said a nurse who collected her samples did not wear full protective gear and was listed as a close contact to be sent to quarantine. Patients in the same ward were also moved to isolation wards.

The woman also stayed at the internal medicine ward of Caritas Medical Centre in Cheung Sha Wan on Thursday and Friday. Patients in the same ward will be sent to isolation or quarantine.

Chuang said with the rapid increase in cases, there are only 400 vacant units remaining in quarantine centers and they will be prioritized for close contacts and high-risk overseas returnees.

Meanwhile, a new quarantine facility at Penny's Bay near Disneyland with over 800 units will be available by the end of the month.

jane.cheung@singtaonewscorp.com

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