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Thai overstayer among 26 new Covid-19 cases

19 August 2020

By The SUN

400 inmates and 200 immigration officers will be tested at the Castle Peak detention centre

A Thai national who had overstayed his visa since late last year has tested positive inside the Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre, sparking mass testing in the facility.

This was according to Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection, who reported the overstayer as among the 26 new Covid-19 cases today, Aug. 19.

At the same time, Dr Chuang confirmed that all Air India flights have been banned from Hong Kong for two weeks since yesterday, after 11 passengers on its Aug 14 flight tested positive on arrival here.
“We found the percentage (of infected people) too high, so we have to suspend their flights,” said Dr. Chuang.

She said that in line with the travel restrictions that took effect on Jul 25, all travelers coming from high-risk countries like India should have presented a negative test result for Covid-19 before being allowed to board their flights to Hong Kong.

This is the first time Hong Kong has invoked its right under Cap 599 (h) of the Disease Control and Prevention Ordinance to suspend the Air India flights.
11 passengers on an Air India flight to HK were found infected, sparking the ban
According to Dr Chuang, all three imported cases today also flew in from India. Two are recent arrivals, while the third tested positive on the second sample while under quarantine.

As for the Thai overstayer, Chuang said the man arrived in Hong Kong in October last year and lived with a friend in Tsuen Wan before being arrested recently during a routine ID check by police officers.

While at the Castle Peak Bay detention centre, the man was tested in accordance with standard procedures, and was found positive. About 400 other inmates in the facility who were also tested returned negative results.

As a result, three other inmates who shared a room with the patient have been isolated, along with two immigration officers who conducted a physical check on the man.

Chuang said part of the routine check involved examining the patient’s mouth, so even if the officers had worn masks, they were deemed to be close contacts and should be isolated.

As a further safeguard, all 400 inmates and 200 immigration staff at the facility will be tested to prevent a possible outbreak.

Health authorities have also asked the police to help get more information from the patient, who is said to be uncooperative. In particular, the officers are keen to find out the whereabouts of the patient’s friend with whom he lived in Tsuen Wan so he could be also isolated and tested.

“We have yet to locate the patient’s friend, and the case will be referred to the police,” Chuang said.

No new case was reported from the Kwai Tsing container port cluster, except for a security personnel who was already reported as preliminary positive yesterday.

This was despite more sample bottles being turned over to CHP for testing. From yesterday’s 2,600 samples tested, the number has increased to 3,400 today, and all were found negative, said Chuang.

More than 8,000 specimen bottles have been distributed to staff at the container port, where more than 60 cases have been found so far.

While the number of cases continue to drop, more deaths are being reported. According to Dr Lau Ka-hin of the Hospital Authority, two more elderly patients succumbed to the disease over the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 72.

The first was a 64-year-old woman suspected of having been infected while confined at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for an unrelated ailment. She died yesterday afternoon, and Dr Lau said authorities will determine, along the with the patient’s family, whether an inquest should be carried out.

The second fatality was an 86-year-old male patient who passed away this morning at United Christian Hospital.

An additional 102 patients were discharged from hospitals today, for a total recovery figure of 3,739.

But 683 patients remain in isolation in 19 hospitals and at the treatment facility in AsiaWorld-Expo. Of these, 29 are in critical condition, 38 are serious, and 616 are in stable condition.

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