Coronavirus: Hong Kong records two new Covid-19 cases, both with European travel history

Victor Ting

Hong Kong recorded two new Covid-19 cases on Friday, both of whom had been to Europe before falling ill, city health officials confirmed. The two new positive tests bring the city’s tally of cases to 1,065.

Speaking at a daily press conference, Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Centre for Health Protection’s communicable disease branch, said the two imported cases involved a 15-year-old man and a 61-year-old woman.

The teenager, who presented no symptoms, studies in Britain and had been living with a host family after his secondary school closed. He flew back to the city on Thursday aboard flight CX252, and tested positive for Covid-19 at the AsiaWorld-Expo testing centre.

The woman had gone to the Netherlands to visit family on March 30, and returned to Hong Kong on May 14. Chuang said the patient developed a fever, cough and sore throat on April 16, but her symptoms later subsided.

She said she became worried when some of her symptoms returned while she was under home quarantine in Hoi Shui House, part of Sham Shui Po’s Hoi Lai Estate. She was sent to Caritas Medical Centre after testing positive on Friday.

The update came as city health officials revealed that negative air pressure had briefly dropped inside the isolation area at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam as work was done on the ventilation system.

The incident, which affected three negative pressure wards, one of which housed a Covid-19 patient, triggered an alert that lasted from about 11.35am to 12.10pm, according to Dr Linda Yu Wai-ling, the Hospital Authority’s chief manager for clinical effectiveness and technology management.

But Yu said the risk of infection was not high, as the pressure drop took place inside the anterooms of the wards, while the rooms where the patients stayed maintained their negative pressure.

Medical workers present were wearing N95 respirators at the time and were not performing any high-risk medical procedures, she added.

Similar incidents involving a temporary malfunction of the negative pressure system have taken place recently at Princess Margaret Hospital, North District Hospital and Tuen Mun Hospital.

It has been more than a week since the city recorded a locally infected coronavirus case. The last instance was on May 14, when a 62-year-old man tested positive. He was believed linked to a local cluster in which his 66-year-old wife and five-year-old granddaughter were also confirmed as infected.

The city recorded eight new cases on Thursday – all from Pakistan.

Separately on Friday, Cardinal John Tong Hon said the city’s Catholic churches will resume their ordinary weekday masses starting June 1 and Sunday masses from June 7 amid a relaxation of social-distancing rules governing gatherings at places of worship.

Masses have been conducted online recently, and Tong said the congregation could still join them virtually if they were wary of infection risks.

Additional reporting by Lilian Cheng and Elizabeth Cheung

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