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Infected Indonesian helper who stayed in dorms sparks fears of coronavirus spread

05 August 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

About 30 Indonesian workers and their employers could be close contacts of the infected helper
An Indonesian domestic worker who stayed in a boarding house with 28 other helpers as well as an employment agency office was among the 85 new Covid-19 cases reported today, Aug. 5.

Her case has sparked concern that a new cluster of cases might emerge from among the many people she had been in contact with, two weeks since she left her former employer’s home.

Also among the new cases is a Filipina domestic worker who tested positive on the10th day of her quarantine, indicating she had a negative test result on her arrival in Hong Kong, and in a required pre-boarding testing before she left Manila.

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According to Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection, the Indonesian helper, identified as case no 3664, left her former employer’s home on Jul 20. Between Jul 22 and 23, she moved to a boarding house in Wanchai, where 28 other FDWs were staying.

The shelter, located at 375 Lockhart Road, Wanchai, is reportedly operated by KL Home Care Ltd.

On Jul 23, she hung out in a unit at 48 Yee Wo Street in Causeway Bay (reportedly owned by Bandung Enterprises Employment Agency) while looking for a new employer. She developed symptoms on Aug 1 and was confirmed positive for Covid-19 yesterday.


“Her former employer has been found, and will be tested,” said Dr Chuang.

All four helpers who lived in the unit with her between Jul 30 and 31, along with the agency’s staff, have been traced, and put under quarantine.

However, all the 28 FDWs who had stayed at the first boarding house with the patient have all left to live with their respective employers, so it is taking time to locate them, said Chuang.


She also said that because two weeks had passed since the patient started staying in the dormitory, it would be difficult to find out where the infection might have started.

“So we are very worried because we have not found the source of the infection yet,” Chuang said.

She called on the workers and their employers with links to the case to step forward for testing and isolation.

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The case also sparked concern among those living in, and managing shelters or temporary lodging for FDWs.

Edwina Antonio, executive director of Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge, said the surge in infections has made running the shelter even more difficult. The new positive case has made it even more urgent to adopt stringent intake measures.
 
Antonio (left) says Bethune House is taking extra care amid the recent surge in Covid-19 cases 
Kahit ang Bethune House ay maingat sa pag-admit ng mga bagong clients dahil malaki ang magiging epekto nito (infection) sa operations and services,” she said. “Kaya sa ngayon, hindi pwedeng lumabas ang mga residents unless case-related, at wala ding outside activities o visits mula sa ibang tao.”

(Even Bethune House is being very cautious in admitting new clients because an infection could have a severe impact on operations and services. So for now, our residents are not allowed to go out unless for case-related matters, and we also don’t  conduct outside activities or allow visits from other people).
Apart from the Filipina helper who was found infected while in quarantine, two other imported cases were reported. One involved a returnee from the United States, and another who flew in from Kazakhstan via Turkey.

There was another case of a patient who flew in from Taiwan, then tried to switch hotels before attempting to leave Hong Kong while under quarantine.

He was intercepted at the border and moved to a quarantine centre where he tested positive yesterday. Chuang said they were still looking into whether the case should be classified as imported or local.

Another cause for concern is the growing number of cases linked to a direct marketing company operating out of a basement office in Kowloon.

Six new cases were recorded today, and all the patients were at the company’s training held at the Royal Plaza Hotel in Mong Kok on Jul 31.

Chuang said that so far, around 45 cases have been linked to this cluster.

Five other cases were linked to the King Fok elderly home in Sham Shui Po. Four are staff of the home, while one is a resident.

Dr Lau Ka-hin of the Hospital Authority said two more patients, both of them elderly, passed away in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 43.

A male patient aged 82 passed away last night, while another 86-year-old man died at 3:16pm today in Tuen Mun Hospital.

Another death could be added if a 86-year-old patient who passed away at North District Hospital after testing preliminary positive would be classified by health authorities as a confirmed case.

Dr Lau said that as of 9am today, 1,223 confirmed patients are in 19 public hospitals and the community quarantine facilities at Lei Yue Mun and AsiaWorld-Expo. Forty-five are in critical condition, 3 are serious, and 1,173 are in stable condition.





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