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Exhaust fans could have spread virus, says expert, as 3 new imported cases recorded

06 June 2020

By The SUN
Residents of Luk Chuen House were evacuated Thursday night and taken to quarantine centers (RTHK photo)

Three new cases of coronavirus infections were reported today, Jun 5, all involving residents recently arrived from overseas, bringing Hong Kong’s total tally to 1,102.

The first two cases are a 73-year-old woman and her eight-year-old granddaughter who returned from India on Thursday, the second flight chartered by the government to bring residents home.

They’re the first returnees from India to have tested positive for Covid-19.

The third patient is a  49-year-old woman who had flown in from London earlier Friday, and tested positive on arrival at the airport.

Centre for Health Protection officials said they are also investigating the case of a 68-year-old man who arrived from Canada Thursday, and said he had earlier tested positive for the virus.

At today’s press briefing, health officials also announced that 75 residents of flats 12 and 10 in Luk Chuen House in Lek Yuen estate were evacuated overnight, and moved to  a quarantine facility.
The Shatin housing estate is where six of the patients in the latest local cluster of cases live. Five live in flats numbered 12, and one in a number 10 flat.

The index patient who lives in a number 12 flat, appears to have infected  her husband, two of her colleagues in a Kerry warehouse in Kwai Chung, and the ambulanceman who took her to hospital.

The CHP said it has collected 1,352 deep-throat saliva samples from residents of the estate, and all came back negative except for the ones that have already been reported.

Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post reported that a leading infectious disease expert has said that kitchen exhaust fans could have led to the spread of the virus.

Professor Yuen Kwok-hung said in an interview in the Post that he believed the exhaust fans in the kitchen could have spread the virus among residents of the three numbered 12 flats,

Yuen said the first reported case was on a lower floor and three more recent ones lived in flats above, so it was not likely sewage pipes could have caused the spread of the virus.

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“A patient who has a high viral load could blast out air (with the virus) when cooking,” he is quoted as saying.

“If the flats above did not turn on their extraction fans, and the wind was blowing towards those flats, people there could have got infected.”

In a separate interview, respiratory expert David Hui said Lek Yuen residents should not have been allowed to leave their homes as this has increased the risk of community transmission.

Some scared tenants had been seen fleeing the estate despite appeals from the government to stay put while more investigations are being carried out.

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