A 37-year-old local woman was infected with the Wuhan coronavirus by her parent who came from Wuhan, making her the first local infection through “limited human-to-human transmission” in Hong Kong.
The woman surnamed Lin, a new immigrant from China and an executive of Haitong International Securities, was confirmed as infected on Thursday. Her parent, 72, along with a 73-year-old woman, arrived in Hong Kong on flight KA853 on January 22, before the Wuhan government announced the shutdown of external transport on the following day.
Lin and her parent stayed at the W Hong Kong Hotel above the Kowloon MTR station for a week. The parent had fever last Saturday and went to Queen Mary Hospital on Tuesday. Lin then returned to her flat in Tower 2 of The Coronation in Yau Ma Tei. She developed a cough but didn’t consult a hospital until Thursday. She had not visited the mainland recently, gone to any wet market or had any close contact with wild animals or birds.
The parent was confirmed as infected on Wednesday. They had been to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the International Commerce Center and the Four Seasons Hotel in Central. According to the Center of Health Protection, they were not cooperative and refused to disclose in detail where they had been during the week.
Five hotel staff were categorized as people who had had close contact with the patients and were sent to the Lady MacLehose Holiday Village for quarantine.
Joseph Tsang Kay-yan, a specialist in infectious disease, said the woman’s case was categorized as “limited human-to-human transmission” as she was infected by her family member. Tsang said if a person was infected locally by a person or persons unknown, the case would be categorized as “continuous human-to-human transmission.”
Haitong International Securities on Thursday issued an internal email to its staff, saying that Lin had been on leave before she met her parent on January afternoon. The company said its office at Li Po Chun Chambers in Sheung Wan had not been contaminated.
Lin’s case was one of the two confirmed cases identified on Thursday. The other case involved a 75-year-old Hong Kong man, who was living in Hong Mei House, Cheung Hong Estate in Tsing Yi.
On January 22, the man developed a cough and shortness of breath. On January 24, he was admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital. He has been staying in the general ward in the hospital.
On Thursday, his respiratory sample was tested positive for Wuhan coronavirus under enhanced laboratory surveillance. Before he was identified as infected, the man had not told the Hong Kong medical staff about his latest visit to Shunde, Guangdong province, between December 30 last year and January 7. He said he had sought medical treatment at a clinic in Shunde. He took day trips to Macao from January 10 to 14. His wife, daughter and son are asymptomatic and will be transferred to Lady MacLehose Holiday Village for quarantine.
Hospital Authority Employees Alliance chairman Yu wai-ming said medical staff in Princess Margaret Hospital were furious and worried after they learned that an infected person had hidden his travel history. Yu urged the government to launch new rules to punish patients who hide their travel histories.
Hospital Authority Employees Alliance is organizing a strike on Monday for its members, 70% of whom are in emergency positions, protesting the government decision on Tuesday not to completely shut down its border with the mainland.
Apart from this, a 79-year-old Hong Kong man went to Tseung Kwan O Hospital on Thursday as he was experiencing fever. After he said he had been to Hunan province, he was told by medical staff that he would be quarantined. While waiting for an X-ray scan, the man ran away from the hospital.
The police were still searching for the man, who was living in an apartment on the 41st floor in Tower 10 in Metro Town in Tseung Kwan O. The property management office of Metro Town said it had cleaned up and sterilized the whole floor where the man was living. A district councilor said the man’s relatives were also living in the same estate.
On Tuesday, the Hong Kong government said it would close six of the 14 control points from Thursday. According to the Immigration Department, a total of 160,000 people entered Hong Kong on Thursday, 32% down from the previous day. The incoming travelers included about 20,000 mainlanders, 30% down from Wednesday. However, the number of mainlanders arriving in Hong Kong by flight grew 8% to 10,000 on Thursday from Wednesday.
As of Thursday, a total of 12 infected people were identified in Hong Kong. Except for one woman, all infected people either came from or had visited the mainland.
In Guangdong province, the number of infected people reached 393 on Thursday, up 82 from Wednesday. The cases included 106 in Guangzhou, 110 in Shenzhen, 32 in Foshan, 26 in Zhuhai, 17 in Huizhou and 16 in Dongguan.