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Expert fears latest Covid-19 case in HK caused by airborne particles

13 June 2020

By The SUN

 9 residents of Luk Chuen House have tested positive for C ovid-19

Another resident of Luk Chuen House at Lek Yuen Estate in Sha Tin was found infected with Covid-19 today, Jun 13, raising Hong Kong’t total tally to 1,109.

The 33-year-old man lives next door to the index patient in the cluster, and the ninth resident of the building to have tested positive for the virus.
The man had been in Prince of Wales hospital with a fever since Jun 4 but was found with the virus only after undergoing a bronchoscopy test on his lungs.

His case is bothering health experts as his throat, nasal and stool samples all tested negative for the virus earlier.

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 Dr Yuen Kwok-yung, a University of Hong Kong microbiologist, visited Luk Chuen House earlier today with Undersecretary for the Environment Tse Chin-wan to evaluate the spread of the disease in the neighboring flats.

The man lives in room 810, and the 34-year-old woman who was the first resident of the building to be found infected, lived next door to him in flat 812.
Dr Yuen says it appears the latest patient was infected by airborne particles
Yuen, who is also a government adviser, said it appeared the man was infected through airborne transmission, and not through regular droplets. This would explain why the virus was only found in his lungs.

“Usually for infected cases, a patient’s deep-throat saliva or nasal swab tests would return positive. But for this case he has tested negative,” Yuen said.
He added, “There is something happening in Luk Chuen House, that particles of such a small size infected his lungs but didn’t affect his upper respiratory system.

“As there is such a patient now, there might be airborne transmission here. How could it be transmitted by air? We still haven’t found the cause yet.”

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Health officials said the man lives with his two elder brothers and mother, and rarely went out. During the quarantine period, his two brothers developed a fever but recovered without infection, while the mother was unaffected.

Residents of flats numbered 10 and 12 on all floors of Luk Chuen House were evacuated on Jun 4 and moved to a quarantine center, including the man’s three family members.

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All other residents of the building have been tested for the coronavirus, and the results all came back negative.

Three other cases have been linked to the cluster, however. They include two colleagues of the 34-year-old woman who was the first confirmed patient from the building, as well as the ambulanceman who took her to Prince of Wales hospital.

Despite the new concern about minute airborne particles infecting people in the building, officials say no further evacuation of Luk Cheung House is being planned at this stage.
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