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HK hospitals overwhelmed as 128 new cases reported today

26 July 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

Around 100 confirmed or suspected Covid-19 patients are waiting for admission to hospitals

As many as 100 people confirmed or preliminary positive for Covid-19 have been told to stay at home while health officials look for isolation or quarantine facilities for them amid a continuing surge in Covid-19 cases.

This was disclosed today, Jul 26, as health authorities reported 128 new confirmed cases, the second highest daily tally on record. Yesterday, a record 133 cases were reported.

Among the new cases today are 25 new arrivals from abroad, including nine domestic helpers and two seafarers from the Philippines. The others include six more seafarers: three who came in from Qatar, and one each from Britain, Switzerland and India.

There was also a new arrival from Bangladesh, and five travelers from Australia and India who tested positive while under quarantine

According to Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection, one of the Filipino domestic workers flew in with her two employers, who apparently also tested positive on arrival. Their nationalities were not disclosed.

As the daily tally has a cut-off time of midnight the previous day, the new arrivals from the Philippines must have flown in on Friday, one day before stricter travel measures were put in place for those flying in from high-risk countries.

The new measures include requiring proof that the passenger had tested negative for the coronavirus through a nucleic acid test conducted within 72 hours prior to boarding.

Employment agencies have halted deployment from the Philippines from yesterday, as they urge the Hong Kong government to extend the test validity period to one week, saying most laboratories in Manila are unable to issue results within three-days.

Stricter measures were also put in place for arriving sea and air crew, after the high infection rate detected among those who fly into Hong Kong. 

Starting Wednesday, the crew change among cargo ships and planes will no longer be allowed in Hong Kong, to further stop the spread of the disease.

Undersecretary for Food and Health Chui Tak-yi said all sea and air crew who do not load or unload cargo in Hong Kong will no longer be allowed entry. 

Chui (middle) with Chuang and Yu at today's press briefing: Situation in HK 'still serious'

Those who fall under the exemption will have to test negative for Covid-19 through a nucleic acid test done within 48 hours of their departure for Hong Kong, or upon arrival at the airport. They will not be allowed to leave until after their test result is out.

In addition, even with a negative test result, those who fly in will have to self-isolate for 48 hours before being allowed to fly out again.

Meanwhile, Hospital Authority’s Dr Linda Yu admitted a backlog in admitting patients for treatment, even as some of the less serious ones have already been transferred to isolation wards, or to the Lei Yue Mun temporary treatment facility.

She made the statement in response to a query if it was true that several infected people living in a flat in Olympian City had been told to stay put and wait for the authorities to transfer them to a hospital.

Chuang said they were not aware of the case, but if true, it probably involved a family cluster. Once the infected patient is moved, all the other people living in the unit will be taken to a quarantine facility and the entire building disinfected, she said.
Yu said there are “200 or so” patients moved from isolation rooms to the second-tier beds in isolation wards, while 72 less serious cases have been transferred to Lei Yue Mun.

She said that as of midnight last night, there were 177 newly admitted patients, raising the total number of those in isolation to 1,079.

Of these, 908 are confirmed coronavirus patients, 40 of whom are in critical condition, 25 in serious condition, while the other 843 are stable.

Among today’s 103 locally acquired cases, 68 were linked to previous infections, and 47 of them were transmissions among family members and friends, said Chuang.

The notable cases include three workers at a slaughterhouse in Sheung Shui, who all tested preliminary positive for the coronavirus.

While Chui said the government is “deeply worried” about the case, he assured that the workers were tasked with moving the pigs to the abattoir, and did not handle the pork products. He also said one of the workers was linked to a previous infection, so it was not likely the contamination came from their workplace.
Elderly people were again warned to stay home, as new cases were reported in 3 care homes
Chuang mentioned another emerging cluster in the Cornwall home for the elderly in Tuen Mun, where a staff member and seven residents tested positive yesterday. Thirteen others tested preliminary positive.

In all, 19 residents and three staff members have been infected and sent to hospital for treatment. The remaining residents and staff will all be moved to quarantine facilities.

An outbreak was also noted in an elderly home located in Sham Shui Po. One patient who lives on the second floor of the home tested positive, prompting authorities to move 25 other residents to a quarantine facility for medical observation.

At another care home run by the Jockey Club in Fan Ling, New Territories, a staff member also tested positive. All the more than 50 residents in the home will be tested.

Also among today’s cases are two taxi drivers and a 63-year-old male guard who manned the taxi queue at Ruttonjee Hospital in Wanchai.

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