One more locally transmitted case

An insurance agent is one of three patients to come down with the Wuhan coronavirus locally and is believed to have been infected by a previously diagnosed patient at a Lunar New Year gathering, taking the number of confirmed cases to 53 as of last night. The 43-year-old man living at...

Jane Cheung

Friday, February 14, 2020

An insurance agent is one of three patients to come down with the Wuhan coronavirus locally and is believed to have been infected by a previously diagnosed patient at a Lunar New Year gathering, taking the number of confirmed cases to 53 as of last night.

The 43-year-old man living at Tse Tin Tsuen in Tuen Mun with his family works at Nathan Commercial Building in Yau Ma Tei, said Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of communicable disease branch of the Centre for Health Protection.

He had a meal with 12 other relatives - one of whom was the 47th confirmed patient, a 66-year-old man - on January 30 at his home.

The younger man started coughing on January 29 and had diarrhea the following day, prompting him to consult private doctors on January 31, February 5 and February 8. He was admitted to Tuen Mun Hospital on Wednesday and confirmed with Covid-19 yesterday.

"Despite having visited doctors, the patient went to work as usual before he was hospitalized," Chuang said. "He mostly stayed at the office but went out to meet three clients after the onset of symptoms."

More than 10 of his colleagues have been put under quarantine.

Cheung said most local transmission cases occurred within families or workplaces.

"We saw a number of them become infected during gatherings or meals over the New Year holiday," she said, calling on people to avoid attending gatherings.

Responding to rumors regarding the suspected case involving a security bureau staff working at the Tamar government complex, Chuang said she has not heard of any cases involving civil servants.

Despite that, the government said the work-from-home arrangements for civil servants providing non-emergency services will be extended until February 23.

"Government departments will continue to provide emergency services and other essential public services," a spokesman said, appealing to other employers to organize similar arrangements.

Separately, Chuang said a mother and son who had participated in gatherings with the 46th, 48th and 49th confirmed patients have tested positive for the coronavirus in initial tests.

Sara Ho Yuen-ha, Hospital Authority chief manager for patient safety and risk management, said among the 51 confirmed cases, a 39-year-old diabetic man passed away last week and a 25-year-old man was discharged on Wednesday.

She said the other 49 patients are being treated in nine public hospitals, with four in critical condition, five serious and 40 stable. She said the stable patients can go home upon passing two tests proving they have been cleared of the virus.

On the evacuated residents in Hong Mei House in Tsing Yi, Chuang said the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department has disinfected all flats and the Housing Department is inspecting the pipes.

"If all residents test negative for the virus and all the pipes are in good condition or have been rectified without leakage, we hope to send residents home as soon as possible," she said.

Meanwhile, seven more Hongkongers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship under quarantine in Japan were diagnosed with the virus, taking the total number of sickened SAR passengers to 10.

This came as authorities found 44 more passengers were infected, taking the total number of cases on the ship to 218.

jane.cheung@singtaonewscorp.com