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Post offices to distribute free test packs for Covid-19 as 92 new infections reported

27 November 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap 

A patient at the Sanatorium who never left the hospital, tested positive for Covid-19 and has since died

The Hong Kong government has announced new measures to kick-start mass testing, as the new Covid-19 cases rose to 92 today, the highest to be recorded in three months.

But what has alarmed health officials is the case of a patient at the Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital who was found preliminary positive for the coronavirus yesterday, then passed away.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan said the 77-year-old patient, who had been confined on the 33rd floor of the private hospital in Happy Valley since August, developed a fever on Wednesday and had breathing difficulties  the next day.

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“The patient never left the hospital, so we still have to determine the source of infection,” said Dr Chuang.

She said health officials suspect the patient was infected by a relative, or a member of the medical staff who attended to her.

Two medical workers, including one who was involved in resuscitating the patient, have also tested preliminary positive for the virus. The the victim’s family member who visited her in hospital has also started feeling unwell.

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Thirteen patients who stayed on the same floor as the deceased, but who all had a private room each, will be put under quarantine, along with more than 30 staff members. The entire floor where the patients stayed had been sealed off.

Chuang said the current situation is worrying.

“The number today is the highest since early November. We’re of course worried about the trend. You can just imagine if one patient infected two relatives, the number will double. If they go out for some social activities, for example, if they have meals with 10 friends during the communicable period, one patient may infect 10 other people. So the number may escalate very fast,” she said.

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In a bid to contain the spread of the disease, the government introduced new measures that include distributing free specimen collection packs at all 121 post offices across Hong Kong from tomorrow, Nov 28.

Only one person may avail of the free test pack during office hours, while stocks last.

Those who get them will have to submit their deep throat saliva specimen to the 47 outpatient clinics of the Hospital Authority or the 13 clinics of the Department of Health.

People flocked to the Yuen Long testing centre on opening day (RTHK photo)

Also today, the government announced that the five additional community testing centers to be set up in Kowloon and the New Territories will start operations in the coming days.

They will supplement the work of the four CTCs that are already in operation in Quarry Bay Community Hall in the Eastern District, Henry G Leong Yaumatei Community Cetre, Lek Yung Community Hall in Shatin and Yuen Long Town East Community Hall.

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The five new CTS will be located at Lai King Community Hall, Wo Hing Community Hall in Fanling, Siu Lun Community Hall in Tuen Mun, Hang Hau Community Hall and Yau Tong Community Hall respectively.

The centers provide testing services at a fee capped at $240 for those who are not in the high-risk groups and are asymptomatic. But the government may also use the CTCs to conduct testing for target groups, such as the dance cluster, where 367 confirmed patients have so far been linked.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labour and Welfare also announced that the free coronavirus tests offered to foreign domestic workers waiting to move into their employers’ homes will continue to be provided from Dec 1 to 24.

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The free tests were originally offered from Aug 25 to Nov 21.

A government press release said eligible migrant workers may pick up and return  specimen collection packs at the temporary distribution and collection point located near Gate 1 of the Wan Chai Sports Ground at 20 Tonnochy Road, Wan Chai.

No prior appointment is necessary, but the FDW will be asked to provide her HKID card and passport, as well as proof of her visa status.

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FDWs who need to stay in a boarding house for an extended period while waiting for her new employment visa may retake the test as appropriate before joining the employer’s family.

Employers are also advised to ensure that their new helper has tested negative for the virus before being allowed to join their households.

Free nasal and throat swab tests were offered to FDWs earlier this year in Wan Chai

Meanwhile, health officials said that of the 92 new cases, 72 were linked to previous infections, including 58 from the dance cluster.

Seventeen had no known source, aged 14 to 70. As in the past few days, they are from various sectors, including retirees, homemakers and office workers who live all over Hong Kong. There was also a 14-year-old student who goes to SKH  All Saints' School in Mong Kok.

Three cases were imported, involving returnees from Nepal, Russia and Switzerland.

There were more than 60 preliminary cases as of 4pm today.

A total of 495 confirmed patients are in 20 public hospitals and the temporary community treatment facility at AsiaWorld-Expo. Of these, six are in critical condition, six are serious, and the rest are stable.

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