A 32-year-old Filipino domestic worker was identified as having the Wuhan coronavirus late on Monday, days after her 67-year-old female employer was found to have the virus.
The Filipina had a negative result to a test for the virus last Friday but a positive result on Monday, Chuang Shuk-kwan, director of the Centre’s Communicable Disease Division, said in a Hong Kong media briefing on Tuesday. She is now in a stable condition, Chuang said.
She is the first maid to be infected in Hong Kong since the epidemic emerged in the city late last month. She was confirmed as the 61st infected individual in Hong Kong on Tuesday.
On February 2, the Filipina developed a cough and fever. She took some medicine and did not go to see a doctor.
She was sent to the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital on Hong Kong Island for quarantine last Friday after her female employer was confirmed as the 52nd infected individual in the city on the day before.
The pair lived with the employer’s daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren at Mount Parker Lodge in Quarry Bay.
The employer developed a cough on January 31 and then fever and chills the next day. She consulted private doctors on January 31, February 3 and 7. She usually stays with her 37-year-old son at Heung Hoi Mansion in Wan Chai on weekends. Her son developed a fever on February 8 and consulted a private doctor on February 9.
Both the woman and her son sought treatment from Ruttonjee Hospital on February 12 and were identified as infected individuals on the following day. They had no travel history during the incubation period, according to the Centre for Health Protection.
The woman and her son could have been infected at a Lunar New Year dinner on January 26, the second day of the Year of the Rat, at the Star Seafood Restaurant in North Point.
The dinner was attended by 25 adults and four children. Six of these people have since been found to have the coronavirus. The Filipina did not attend the dinner but was infected at her employer’s home, Chuang said.
Chuang said the Filipina had met her friends for an hour outside the Hong Kong City Hall in Central on February 9. She said the Health Department was trying to reach the participants of the gathering.
The Star Seafood Restaurant was shut down on February 6 after its tenancy agreement expired.
A couple, both 37, could have spread the disease at the dinner. They, together with the husband’s mother, lived in unit A07 on the third floor of Hong Mei House, Cheung Hong Estate in Tsing Yi. Their flat’s toilet was said to be contaminated by the virus from the same unit on the 13th floor through the drainage system.
Meanwhile, Bridigo “Dodo” Dulay, Philippine Foreign Affairs Undersecretary, said Tuesday that the thousands of overseas Filipino workers returning for work in Hong Kong and Macau have been exempted from the outbound travel ban.
He added the new directive is still subject to certain procedural formalities.
The decision was made during the meeting of the Philippines’ Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
On February 2, the Philippine government announced a ban on its people going to China, Hong Kong and Macau. Since then, more than 1,000 Filipino domestic workers have reportedly been waiting to depart from Manila airport.
Teodoro Locsin Jr, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary, recommended that the ban on Filipino workers going back to Hong Kong should be lifted. In a recent tweet, he said there was no confirmed case of Wuhan disease in Hong Kong.
On Sunday and Monday, four more cases were recorded in Hong Kong, adding to a total of 60 confirmed cases.