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Go for test if you have symptoms, public urged, as 68 new Covid-19 cases reported

23 November 2020

 

Palladium Dance Club in TST is among the 14 venues linked to the new cluster (RTHK photo)

By Vir B. Lumicao

Health officials confirmed 68 coronavirus infections in Hong Kong today, Nov 22, 46 of them related to the dance hall outbreak last week. The new cases brought Hong Kong’s overall tally to 5,629.

Health officials expressed concern about the silent transmission in the community, especially in the dance cluster, where 80 infections have so far been detected.

They urged the public to go for testing if they have symptoms or feel unwell.

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Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan from the Centre for Health Protection said the newly confirmed patients were 31 males and 37 females with ages ranging from 17 to 81. She said 34 of the cases were identified by the testing centers.

Only seven of the new cases were imported. They included two men from India and Mexico, a female cabin crew from Turkey, and two Russian male pilots who arrived in Hong Kong on Nov 20; and a Russian female crew who arrived one day later.

The seventh was a man from Pakistan who arrived on Nov 18 and tested positive while in quarantine.

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From the dance cluster, there were two cleaners from two separate dancing clubs, which show possible environmental contamination of the two premises, Chuang said.

Another was a female teacher who was related to a patient from the dance cluster. The teacher has 20 students whom she taught face to face, so the students were all sent to a testing center, Chuang said. 

She said that some of the cases linked to the dance clubs are family members or friends, or people who lived or worked near them.

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Starting today, she said there would be no more dancing in dance floors and restaurants.

The day's tally included 16 other local cases, four of which were linked to previous infections, and 12 whose sources were unknown.

One was a 70-year-old woman from Wah Chuen in Kwai Chung who felt unwell on Nov 19 after performing in a Cantonese opera with another singer at Leighton Hill Community Centre.

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Chuang said they did not wear masks but there was a distance between them. There were about 20 persons in the audience but all wore masks and were seated at a distance.

Another female patient who lives in Kwun Tong with family members felt unwell on Nov 20 and went to a hospital where she tested positive yesterday.

Chuang said the woman went to Guan Ho Chinese restaurant in Mei Foo on Nov 16 with friends to eat and dance. She said there were several tables and a large number of people, making the place high risk. CHP is now trying to trace the people who were there.

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“So far we have not identified who had attended these events or been to those places. We’ll keep it under observation. If there are people who have been to these events, please go to get tested,” Chuang said.

Another patient was a primary school student in Tai Po who felt unwell and went to a hospital for a checkup.

Chuang said sample bottles had been distributed to students of the school and classes had been suspended while results were awaited and disinfection and cleaning operations were carried out.

Health officials say the spread of the virus in the dance clubs is worrying

Meanwhile, Dr Lau Ka-hin, chief manager of the Hospital Authority, said that 11 patients had recovered in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 5,259.

As of 9am, there were 164 confirmed patients still in 19 public hospitals, with 8 in a critical condition, 2 in a serious condition and 152 in a stable condition.

Chuang urged the public, especially those in the dance cluster, to go see a doctor immediately if they experience mild symptoms.

Everyone who had been to 14 dance clubs identified by the government since the start of the month have until Tuesday to get themselves tested or face sanctions, under new regulations allowing the government to compel testing for those in certain high-risk groups.

The clubs have been identified as: Chasse, at W Square and Dance Concept of Great Smart Tower, both in Wan Chai; Dance Culture and Dance Star Academy, both in Richmond Plaza, Causeway Bay; DanzStage Dance Studio of 148 Electric Road, Causeway Bay; Green Apple International Dance School of Alto Residences in Tseung Kwan O; Heavenly Dance of 9 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan; Hsin Kuang Banquet Hall of Yue Xiu Plaza in San Po Kong; a studio on the third floor of Golden Era Plaza in Mong Kok; Matex Club of Park Fook Industrial Building in Sham Shui Po; More Dance Fame of Chinaweal Centre in Wan Chai; Palladium International Dance Club of the BCC Building in Tsim Sha Tsui; Shining Star Dance Studio of SUP Tower in North Point and the Starlight Dance Club of Sunshine Plaza in Wan Chai.

Chuang said those who should get tested can go to outpatient clinics to get specimen bottles or to private clinics.

She said the government has enough testing facilities. “Together with the private clinics, we can handle 10,000 tests a day, she said.

Lau echoed the appeal, taking note of the high number of untraceable cases. He said those who are in the high-risk groups or in the target groups should go for testing.

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