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106 new covid-19 cases today, 7 imported from Phl despite pre-departure testing

28 July 2020

By Daisy C L Mandap

7 travelers from the Phl tested positive today, despite new rules requiring them to submit a negative test result before boarding 

Seven new arrivals from the Philippines were among the 106 new Covid-19 cases reported in Hong Kong today, Jul 28, which brought the city’s total tally to 2,885.

Three are seafarers, two are domestic helpers, one is a Hong Kong citizen, and the seventh is a baby who flew in with family members.

Their cases came as a surprise to many in the Filipino community, as they should have presented a negative result for a nucleic acid test for Covid-19 before being allowed to board their flight.

The requirement, imposed since last Saturday, Jul 25, also includes the provision that the test should have been made no longer than 72 hours before the flight, and carried out by a laboratory licensed by the Philippine government.

Asked if this meant that the negative swab test result the passengers obtained in Manila was faulty, a female information staff at the Department of Health said it could also mean they somehow got infected after the test was carried out.

But the DH staff said they could not readily give the arrival dates of the passengers, as they are all swamped with work because of a big surge in cases over the past week.
Consul General Raly Tejada says he has also inquired about the cases, as they could impact other members of the community.

Without the exact details about the cases, “we can’t do any remedial measures if required,” he says.
Congen Tejada says he is also asking for details on the patients so remedial measures can be taken if necessary

Since the outbreak of what Hong Kong health officials called the “third wave” of infections, the arrival dates of the imported cases are no longer included on the list which the government posts online hours after the daily briefing.
On Sunday, when the first passengers from Manila who tested positive after the new stringent rules took effect should have been recorded, nine newly arrived domestic helpers and two seafarers were reported as among those infected.

One of the Filipino helpers flew in with her employers, who also tested positive, making a total of 11 infected passengers from the Philippines.

The Centre for Health Protection listed all 11 in their press release on the same day, but did not indicate when they flew in.

Yesterday, a baby who flew in with her family members found infected earlier, was included in the record number of 145 new positive cases, but there was also no indication on when the infant arrived.

The continued arrival of Filipino domestic workers also comes as a surprise, since a big group of Hong Kong-based employment agencies has said they won’t make any new deployments from the Philippines until they get a response to their request that the testing validity be extended to a week.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong health officials have said they expect the daily tally to go down by next week, after the most stringent gathering restrictions ever imposed take effect.
These include a ban on dine-in at all eateries, compulsory wearing of masks in all public places, and limiting public gathering to only two persons.

But CHP’s Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan warned there should be no room for complacency, as the number of confirmed cases is still worrying.

Today was the lowest daily tally in a week, but there were still 85 preliminary positive cases, which could have taken the number of cases to a new record high if they were diagnosed earlier.

Dr Sara Ho of the Hospital Authority revealed more than 100 confirmed or preliminary positive cases are still waiting to be admitted to hospitals, even after more than 300 recovering patients have already been moved to other facilities.

Ho said 230 patients were moved from individual isolation rooms to second-tier beds in isolation wards, and a further 118 were transferred to the Lei Yue Mun isolation facility.

She asked for understanding for those waiting for admission, saying the HA is doing its best to free up more beds for them.

Both Chuang and Ho also said every effort is being made to help those who face hours of waiting at the AsiaWorld-Expo testing site at the airport before they could either be released for quarantine or moved to a hospital if they test positive.

A reporter said some of those stuck at the airport testing site had complained of not being able to take a shower, or were forced to wear diapers because of the long wait.

Chuang said more shower facilities at the site are being planned, and wet towels provided for the passengers for cleansing.

Among today’s notable cases were 17 linked to a construction site on Mt Kellett Road on the Peak, where the company involved is the Kin Shing Leung’s General Contractors Limited.

At least eight of the company’s workers were diagnosed as early as last Sunday, while two new cases were confirmed today, and two were preliminary positive. The company has its office at the Millenium City in Kwun Tong and it’s unclear how many of the workers had been to the construction site.

Several more cases were linked to elderly care homes, including between three to four residents of Cornwall in Tuen Mun, who tested preliminary positive.

Another preliminary case is a staff member of Shong Yen Aged Home Branch on Leighton Road in Causeway Bay.

At the Salvation Army Lung Hang Residence for Senior Citizens, the chef tested positive, as well as an employee at the Jockey Club Kin Yee Home in Aberdeen.

There are also additional cases in restaurants where previous clusters were reported. One was linked to Fulum Restaurant in Tuen Mun, and another at Tao Heng in Grand Plaza in Mong Kok.

Two more more workers at the Sheung Shui slaughterhouse also tested positive.

Apart from the seven new arrivals from the Philippines, an air crew who flew in from Russia and Germany was listed as the eighth imported case.

There are 1,100 Covid-19 patients currently admitted in 14 public hospitals. Forty of them are in critical condition, 29 in serious condition, while 1,031 are stable.

The death toll stands at 23, with the last 11, all elderly, passing away in less than a month.

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