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Covid-19 superspreader found in hospital cluster

27 December 2020

By The SUN

Dr Yuen says the superspreader infected 10 fellow patients and 4 medical staff 

Hong Kong health officials have revealed that an 84-year-old female patient at United Christian Hospital was a superspreader who could have infected 14 other people, including four medical staff.

The information was first disclosed today, Dec 26, by Dr Yuen Kwok-yung, a microbiologist and physician from the University of Hong Kong, after he inspected the hospital.


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It was confirmed at a subsequent press briefing on the latest Covid-19 situation by Dr Lau Ka-hin, chief manager of the Hospital Authority, during which it was revealed 59 new infections were recorded as of midnight last night.

According to Yuen, seven more female patients at UCH have tested preliminary positive, along with four medical staff. Three who were previously classified as preliminary cases had just been confirmed.

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Apart from these cases, Yuen said that there were signs of an outbreak in the community where the apparent superspreader lives.

Tests at the hospital showed that the patient’s CT value was very low, only 17 to 18, indicating a high viral load, which also meant she was very contagious.

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But since she mostly stayed in the hospital’s palliative care ward, where most patients have poor immunity because of their age or critical medical condition, the virus spread easily.

Yuen said the index patient was admitted to the hospital on Dec 15, and was put in intensive care because of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which occurs when the body starts breaking down fat.

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After she tested negative for Covid-19, she was moved to the palliative ward because of bed shortage. However, a further test showed she was infected.

Yuen described it as a “most unfortunate” super spreading event, which could have been partially transmitted through the air in the palliative ward.

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Among those believed to have caught the virus from the elderly woman was a nurse who did not wear protective goggles when she helped the patient clean her mouth.

But according to the expert, the outbreak was also partly caused by the serious epidemic situation in East Kowloon, especially in Kwun Tong District, which caused great pressure on community hospitals. The transfer of the patient from one ward to another because of a shortage of beds had caused the virus to spread further.

D
Dr Au says the coronavirus variant was found in a third new arrival from Britain

Meanwhile, Dr Albert Au from the Centre for Health Protection revealed that the highly contagious coronavirus strain was found in a third infected patient who recently arrived from Britain.

The 18-year-old female patient arrived on Dec 13 via Virgin Airlines flight VS206, and developed symptoms a week later while in quarantine at Kowloon Metropark Hotel. She tested positive for the coronavirus on Dec 23 and is now in stable condition.

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Two other teenagers, both males, were earlier found to carry the coronavirus variant. One had already been discharged from the community treatment facility at AsiaWorld-Expo when he was found to have the strain that prompted Hong Kong to ban all flights from Britain last week.

Dr Au said that of the of today’s 59 new cases, 53 were locally acquired, and six were imported, including three new arrivals from Britain, aged 22, 41, and 48.

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Records from CHP later showed that the new imported cases also included a 36-year-old woman who arrived from the Philippines, and tested positive while in quarantine at Metropark Hotel in Mongkok.

Another was a 7-year-old girl who flew in from Indonesia, and a 33-year-old man who arrived from United Arab Emirates.

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Of the 53 local cases, 26 did not have no known sources. More than 50 preliminary cases were also recorded.

Hong Kong now has a total of 8,541 coronavirus cases. As of 9am today, 921 patients are being treated in 23 public hospitals and the treatment facility at AWE. Among them, 55 are in critical condition, 65 are in serious condition, and 801 are in stable condition. 

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