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HK public hospitals tighten infection control as 61 new Covid-19 cases reported

28 December 2020

By The SUN 

Dr Ko announced the new measures amid a hospital outbreak (RTHK photo)

Hong Kong’s public hospitals will tighten their screening protocols for Covid-19, in the wake of an outbreak at United Christian Hospital, believed to have been caused by an elderly patient described as a “super spreader”.

Dr Tony Ko, chief executive of the Hospital Authority, made the announcement in a press conference today, Dec 28, ahead of the daily press update on the Covid-19 situation, during which 61 new cases were reported.

Six of the newly confirmed cases were from the United Christian cluster, making a total of 19 infections, involving both patients and medical staff.

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Dr Ko described the situation as alarming.

“We take [the outbreak] very seriously … That’s why we have reviewed our overall infection control situation and hospital services,” he said.

All public hospitals will now conduct a second Covid-19 test on all patients within two days of their admission, in case the initial test showed a false negative result.

Pindutin para sa detalye

Medical staff may also be tested twice each week to ensure they remain healthy, and are protected from the risks posed by silent carriers.

Ko also said United Christian would stop taking in new Covid-19 patients as a temporary measure, saying there are enough beds in other public hospitals and in the makeshift one being built near the airport, which is due to open next month.

All United Christian staff will also be tested as a further measure to contain the first widespread contamination in a hospital in Hong Kong.

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In addition, medical workers would now have to wear face shields, goggles and gloves when conducting high-risk procedures on patients. HA will also buy more medical equipment, such as blood pressure monitors, to avoid cross-contamination among patients.

Dr Sara Ho, chief manager of the HA, said at the press briefing that the sharing of the BP cuff used on the 84-year-old super spreader was believed to have caused the virus to spread rapidly.

A terminally ill patient at United Christian was one of 2 Covid-related deaths today

Meanwhile, two more patients were reported to have died in the past 24 hours, raising the total death toll in public hospitals to 135.



One was a 74-year-old female patient with terminal illness who passed on at United Christian Hospital at 1:19am today. The other is a 73-year-old male who succumbed to the illness just over a month after being admitted to Caritas Medical Centre.

A total of 916 patients are being treated in 23 public hospitals and the treatment facility at AsiaWorld-Expo. Among them, 51 are in critical condition, 65 are seriously ill, while 800 are in stable condition.

Of today’s new infections, all but one were locally acquired. The sole imported case involved a 33-year-old Filipina domestic worker who tested positive at the airport after flying in from Manila via Cebu Pacific flight 5J272.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love

Another case was a 40-year-old Vietnamese woman detained on suspicion of entering the city illegally. She had spent time at Mong Kok police station and Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre before being transferred to Ma Tau Kok Detention Centre on Dec 14.

Her initial test for Covid-19 prior to being detained yielded a negative result, but a second test conducted on her last week showed she was infected.

The woman was the second Vietnamese detainee to have tested positive for the virus in as many days. On Sunday, another Vietnamese held at Castle Peak was among those reported to have contracted the virus.


But when asked about the likelihood of an outbreak among inmates, Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan from the Centre for Health Protection said it was not likely, as detainees are made to undergo regular testing for Covid-19.

However, as a precaution, she said more tests will be conducted among inmates.

Another measure being taken to avert a possible community outbreak is the mandatory test ordered for all residents of a Wong Tai Sin public housing block after the coronavirus was detected in waste samples taken from the building.

The testing order covers everyone who had been to Fung Chak House at Choi Wan (II) estate and stayed for at least two hours.

Sewage samples had been taken from about 300 housing blocks since October as part of a coronavirus screening scheme. Experts say the virus can remain in the stool of infected people, even after it can no longer be detected from saliva or respiratory samples.

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