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23% of Covid-19 cases in HK asymptomatic, says health official

10 September 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

Dr Chui says nearly 1/4 of all coronavirus cases in HK had no symptoms

Hong Kong health officials have underscored the need to get as many residents to get tested as possible, saying that nearly a quarter of all Covid-19 cases recorded so far did not have symptoms.

The figure was disclosed by Undersecretary for Food and Health Chui Tak-yi today, Sept 10, as 12 new coronavirus cases were reported, 7 of them imported, including a 29-year-old Filipina domestic helper who had no symptoms.

Of the five locally transmitted infections, two were found through the free mass testing that has been extended to Sept 14. The total tally is now 4,903.

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Chui said, “Among the 4,900 plus cases, about 23% were uncovered…meaning the patient had no symptoms…about 1100 did not have symptoms and were not aware that they were sick. Despite having no symptoms they are still potential spreaders of the virus. That’s why early detection and diagnosis is important for containing the disease.”

Thus, while the number of new infections has been subsiding, he said there was still concern about the untraceable sources. About 30% of the cases in the third wave of infections were said to be asymptomatic, indicating that there is still an invisible transmission going on in the community.

“If we can find the invisible carriers we can cut the transmission chain sooner,” Chui said.

On the 10th day of the universal community testing, he said a total of 1.7 million residents had completed the test, and about 1.33 million specimen samples had been tested.

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Out of these, a total of 21 new cases were detected, most of them without symptoms.

Since the mass tests have been extended further, he said, “I appeal to everyone to make use of the time and join the program.”

Health officials say the mass testing is very important in keeping the virus under control

He said it was very important to contain the virus so the number of cases would not revert to the more than 100 that were recorded daily in July, when the expected fourth wave of infections happen at the onset of winter.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection said that apart from the newly arrived Filipina domestic helper, there were six other imported cases. Five were returnees from India, three of them family members; and the other flew in from Iran via Qatar.

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Three of the local cases were all family members of previously infected persons, while two were of unknown source, and were caught through the universal testing.

One of the untraceable cases was a 39-year-old woman who works in a restaurant and was asymptomatic. She was found positive for the virus yesterday after leaving a sample on Sept 7 at a testing centre.

On Sept 8 she took her five-year-old son to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for an eye operation, and the boy tested negative for the virus during a pre-surgery test. The boy was operated on yesterday at the Eye Hospital.

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After the mother’s test result came out, she was again tested along with her son, and both returned a positive result. Subsequent antibody tests on the mother and her son, as well as her husband, showed all had been infected and have recovered.

The second positive case from the UCT was a 37-year-old woman who works as a waitress in Yuen Long and lives in Tin Shui Wai. She had herself tested at the Heung Yee Kuk testing centre in Yuen Long and was asymptomatic.

Dr Lau Ka-hin from the Hospital Authority reported that no deaths were reported during the past 24 hours, so the death toll remains at 98. A total of 4,582 patients have been discharged from public hospitals, while 193 are still being treated in isolation.

Those who want to join the free voluntary mass testing may register online at www.communitytest.gov.hk

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