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Manhunt on for runaway Covid-19 patient

19 December 2020

By The SUN

The 63-yearp-old man escaped from an isolation ward of Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Hong Kong health officials said at a press briefing today, Dec 19, that a Covid-19 patient who escaped from the isolation ward of Queen Elizabeth Hospital yesterday evening has yet to be found.

They made the disclosure as they reported 109 new cases of coronavirus infections, about 40% of them untraceable. More than 70 preliminary positive cases were also reported.

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Dr Linda Yu, chief manager of the Hospital Authority, said police help had been sought to locate the 63-year-old patient who was undergoing treatment after being admitted to QEH for isolation and treatment on Dec 14.

Yu revealed that the man had tried to escape a day earlier, but was stopped by hospital staff who told him to go back to is room. The patient had also been uncooperative during check-ups.

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A statement issued by the government last night said the man was chased by hospital staff when they saw him leaving the ward but failed to catch him after he fled to the staircase.

A subsequent search by hospital security failed to locate the man, who is said to be 1.6 metres tall (5.3”), of medium build with short black hair and was wearing a blue jacket over hospital clothes and a mask when he fled.

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Some local media outlets have since identified him as Lee Wan Keung, a resident of Yen Chun Mansion in Yau Ma Tei. The reports said police had searched the flat earlier Saturday but did not find the escapee.

Officials have advised the public to contact the police or call the hospital hotline at 3506 8944 if they know the whereabouts of the patient.

The runaway man, as identified in a photo published by Dimsum Daily

Meanwhile, Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan from the Centre for Health Protection said 480 people classified as close contacts of infected patients were moved to quarantine camps today.

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The move was taken after concerns were raised over the case of a 62-year-old woman who was found dead in her flat on Dec 11, three days after she was ordered to be quarantined for being a close contact of an infected patient. She tested positive for the coronavirus at the mortuary.

According to Chuang, it normally takes only 24 hours for the quarantine order to be carried out, but in some cases, patients ask that it be delayed because of some special needs, like they have to look after pets.

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“Previously there were cases where there were long delays, but they have already been cleared,” she said.

A statement issued by the government said the Department of Health had strengthened manpower since the fourth wave of infections started, with up to 300 people being moved to quarantine centers on a daily basis.

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“In the past week, the capacity has reached over 400 on certain days,” said the statement.

It also said that apart from dealing with the close contacts of new confirmed cases, the DH has been kept busy handling “large-scale evacuations of residents from five residential buildings in the last two weeks.”

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This reportedly caused the delay in transferring close contacts to the quarantine centers.

Chuang said that a mandatory testing order had been issued for residents of King Tsui Court in Chai Wan, after two new infections were found from the housing block, with coming one from a new unit.

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A total of six flats have been affected so far, with two facing the same direction, which could indicate environmental contamination.

She also said a second round of tests has been ordered for residents of block 6 of Richland Gardens in Kowloon Bay, from Dec 20 to 24.

Among the linked cases were one each for the Tung Tau and Ming Wai estates, 1 from Yata Shatin, 2 from the Lohas Park construction site, 2 from the Billy Sir singing studio, 1 from the dance cluster, and one from the Tseung Kwa O tunnel works.

Among the seven imported cases were two Indonesian women aged 29 and 31, who tested positive while in quarantine. A two-month old baby who arrived from Ukraine and was staying at Holiday Inn Golden Mile in Tsim Sha Tsui was also among them, as well as an 18-year-old female who came from the United Kingdom and a 49-year-old man from the United States.

Two returnees from India, a 50-year-old man and 41-year-old woman, tested positive on arrival at the airport. 

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The total number of cases is now 8,079. As of today, 1,073 confirmed patients are being treated in 22 public hospitals and the treatment facility at AsiaWorld-Expo. Among them, 61 are in critical condition, 63 are seriously ill, while 948 are in stable condition. 

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