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Covid-19 cases ease to 78, but experts say 4th wave hasn’t peaked yet

07 December 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Even the CHP was not spared, as 3 of its staff tested positive today

Seventy-eight fresh coronavirus cases were reported today as health experts said Hong Kong has yet to see the fourth wave of the epidemic peaking.

The Centre for Health Protection said the new cases were made up of 71 local, and seven imported infections. The patients were 44 males and 34 females, with ages ranging from 14 to 88.

Ironically, the CHP itself was unspared by the virus, with three of its office staff among the confirmed cases.

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Dr Chuang Shek-kwan, head of the CHP’s communicable disease branch, said she could not say if the fourth wave has peaked, as she noted that the 29 patients with untraceable sources still represented a high proportion of today’s number of cases.

Earlier today, Ho Pak-leung, head of the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Infection, expressed concern in a radio interview over the increasing number of untraceable cases, numerous local infections and various clusters involving different venues.

“The worst situation for sure hasn’t arrived yet” and could turn for the worse as the weather gets colder. He said problems would mount if people hold Christmas parties in disregard of social-distancing rules.

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“It’s basically impossible to put the fourth wave under control by the end of year,” he said.

Also speaking about the fourth wave was Dr Kenny Chan, member of the HA’s Coordinating Committee in Intensive Care, who disclosed that 90% or 33 of the cases admitted after Dec 1 deteriorated sharply and were sent to ICU.

He said six of the critical cases were aged below 60. For the serious cases, 38, or 40% were over 60, nine were under 60, and two under 50. “I want to remind the public to be careful. Please don’t think that this disease only affects the elderly,” he said.

Chuang says it's too soon to say the 4th wave has peaked

Chuang said 42 cases today are related to previous infections, including 5 in the dancing and singing group and one from the Ho Yuk Ching Willow Lodge. The construction site at Lohas Park and Kai Tak construction site also accounted for one case each.

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A part-time employee who was in charge of crowd control at the Hong Kong Coliseum gate for five days during Hins Cheung’s 8-day concert in late November was infected, said Chuang. She advised close to 50,000 people who attended the concerts to get tested.

At the Shatin Yata department store, five staff in the meat and vegetable section tested preliminary positive, forcing the shop to close for cleansing and the remaining staff to undergo testing.

Today’s cases also included a male student of Ma On Shan Tsung Tsin Middle School. Chuang said she recommended the school for cleansing and its students to go for a test.

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A teacher at Kwang Ming School also tested positive but the risk of infecting others was limited by the suspension of face-to-face classes.

Chuang said a male student at Prince of Wales Hospital midwifery school also tested positive. His family members tested preliminary positive on Dec 5, as did three classmates. No patient was exposed, but his classmates will undergo testing. Classes were suspended for a week.

The CHP had sent specimen bottles to residents of Block 8 at Kwai Shing West estate, where there was a new case on another floor. A cluster outbreak on the fifth floor began with one case on Nov 28, but by Dec 6, 12 more people living on the same floor had tested positive.

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Chuang said the units were close together and environmental contamination was likely. During a follow-up investigation, over 20 samples were taken from lift buttons to the door handle of the rubbish room.

Another infectious disease expert, Leung Chi-chiu, said the government should complete testing on residents in the block within 24 hours, so that they can find out who should be quarantined and who should be put under medical surveillance.

His warning came amid reports some residents in block 8 had fled their homes scared, as  the authorities did not announce the flat numbers of those infected.

The seven imported cases included several travelers who arrived on Dec 5: a Turkish seaman, and a returning resident each from Morocco, Pakistan, Russia and Britain. An air crew from Ukraine also tested positive on arrival on Dec 6.

A British woman who arrived on Nov 28 was in quarantine when she was found infected.

Dr Sara Ho, a general manager at HA,  said that as of 9 am today, 59 confirmed Covid-19 patients were discharged from hospital, bringing the total number of recoveries to 5,626.

A total of 1,122 confirmed patients are in 22 public hospitals and the community treatment facility at AsiaWorld-Expo. Of these, 36 are in critical condition, 40 in serious condition and the remaining 1,046 patients in stable condition.

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