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Record number of Covid-19 patients discharged from HK hospitals

17 April 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap
Only half the number of isolation rooms in 17 public hospitals are still occupied by Covid-19 patients

A record 48 confirmed Covid-19 patients were discharged from 14 public hospitals across Hong Kong today, according to health officials at their daily press briefing today, Apr 17.

This brought down the total number of patients in hospitals to 482, out of a total tally of 1022. Four new cases were recorded today, the sixth day in a row that the number had been in the single digit.

“The number of discharged patients is at an all-time high today. Over half of the confirmed cases have been released,” said Dr Linda Yu, chief manager of the Hospital Authority.
Of those in hospital, nine remain in critical condition, seven are in serious condition while the rest are all stable.

Yu said that as a result, the occupancy rate at the isolation rooms in hospitals has gone down to about 50%, which means that there is no more need to transfer recovering patients to second-tier beds, and there will be no waiting time for newly confirmed cases.

All 4 new cases today involved people who had arrived from the United Kingdom, aged 13-55, of whom three are students.
Two cases were highlighted, that of a 21-year-old female student who tested positive of Covid-19 nearly a month after flying in from the UK.

The patient arrived on Mar 21 and checked into a hotel for her mandatory quarantine. As compulsory testing was not yet required for all new arrivals in Hong Kong, she was not asked to give a deep-throat saliva sample. She went home to her family’s flat in Kornhill, Quarry Bay after the quarantine.
The student's family who lives in Kornhill estate have been put in a quarantine centre

After she ended her quarantine, she went shopping at nearby Cityplaza in Taikoo Shing, and visited a friend in her home where she chatted with the friend's family for about 20 minutes.

On Apr 11 she developed a mild headache. She went to the Hong Kong Sanatorium for a check-up on Apr 13, and the next day, was asked to give a saliva sample. She tested positive today.
Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection said the case is being classified as a “probable local” one because of the length of time it took for the patient to return a positive result.  

But, she added, “Most likely she contracted it overseas , given that the local situation is not that bad.”

Chuang also said the viral load of the patient is low, which could indicate that she might have contracted the disease earlier but did not realize it because she did not have symptoms.

Another case that was singled out was that of the 55-year-old woman who returned from the UK on Apr 16 and had the mandatory testing at AsiaWorld-Expo, which yielded a positive result.

The woman developed a fever and cough on Mar 17 while in the UK, but she did not seek treatment and the symptoms subsided two days later.

Chuang rejected a suggestion the woman had flown to Hong Kong to seek treatment here. She did not have symptoms when she arrived, and it had been past the two-week incubation period for the disease, Chuang said. Besides, she is a Hong Kong resident who is entitled to seek medical care here.

Despite the drastic drop in the number of new cases, the experts are still urging caution, saying it is still too early to say the epidemic has been put under control.

As to whether the government can relax some of the social distancing measures it introduced recently to contain the spread of the disease, Dr Chui Tak-yi, Undersecretary for Food and Health, said they will have to wait until Apr 23, when the restrictions are due to be lifted.

Before then, he said the government will consult experts and study the situation in other countries before deciding whether to lift the restrictions as scheduled, or extend them further.

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