Alarm raised over infected roamer

Top News | Mandy Zheng 23 Oct 2020

TUA jobless woman was out and about for 12 days, visiting at least four restaurants and a massage parlor in Tung Chung and Tuen Mun before she was confirmed with Covid-19.

The 38-year-old Tung Chung resident was among 11 new cases recorded yesterday, taking Hong Kong's tally to 5,280 infections with 105 deaths.

The other 10 cases involved people arriving from Nepal and Pakistan.

The woman, who said she was out of work, is listed as a local case with unknown sources.

But Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Centre for Health Protection's communicable diseases unit, noted that the woman visited Italy and Switzerland from September 9 to 16.

On October 9, she had a slight fever but decided to buy medicine at a pharmacy near her home instead of seeing a doctor.

While feeling better after taking the medicine, the woman realized on Monday that she was losing her sense of taste, prompting her to visit a private doctor in Tuen Mun.

She had then been tested for Covid-19. Before that, the woman ate at two cafes in Tuen Mun, where she often visits friends.

She also had meals at eateries in Yat Tung Shopping Centre and Citygate in Tung Chung.

And she visited San Hui Market in Tuen Mun two or three times a week. She had a foot massage at a parlor in the district.

The woman went for runs every night from her Caribbean Coast home to a nearby pier, sometimes without a mask.

Authorities will distribute test kits at the building where she resides and places she visited.

Several family members and people she had dined with are now in quarantine and being tested, including her son. And a relative who was showing symptoms is in hospital.

The son, who started coughing last Friday, attends Po Leung Kuk Horizon East Primary School in Tuen Mun.

The school suspended classes while awaiting the boy's test result.

"We think the woman was infected locally, although there's a slight possibility she had a very long incubation period [after returning from Europe]," Chuang said.

"As she had been going around in the community for quite a long time we will try our best to trace those who had contact with her - and there could be more cases."

Of yesterday's 10 imported cases, nine people had been on the same flight from Nepal to Hong Kong on Tuesday.

Air travel out of the country was suspended for 14 days after yesterday.

Meanwhile, Ho Pak-leung, head of the University of Hong Kong's Centre for Infection, suggested that authorities consider developing a mobile app to track foreign tourists' whereabouts if travel bubble plans materialize.

When an infection appears among tourists the app could show their probable contacts with previously confirmed cases and also people they may have infected, Ho said on a radio program.

Dozens of countries have launched Covid-19 trackers on phones, such as Singapore's TraceTogether and Britain's NHS Covid-19, despite doubts over their effectiveness and privacy concerns.

Ho urged authorities to "seize the chance when the pandemic is easing" to boost tourism, warning that it might not be long before another coronavirus wave sweeps in.

mandy.zheng@singtaonewscorp.com

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