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Friday, February 28, 2020, 11:23
Biggest infection cluster linked to temple
By Kathy Zhang and Chen Zimo
Friday, February 28, 2020, 11:23 By Kathy Zhang and Chen Zimo

Members of the Hong Kong Community Anti-Coronavirus Link rally in North Point to call for concerted efforts to fight the novel coronavirus such as by distributing free face masks to elderly and handicapped residents. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

A Buddhist temple in North Point has emerged as the source of Hong Kong’s largest coronavirus infection cluster, with 14 of the city’s 93 confirmed cases traced to the temple so far.

Ten of the 14 infected patients were found to have visited the Fook Wai Ching She temple, located on the first floor of Maylun Mansions on Shu Kuk Street, and while the others have had close contact with them.

The HA may expand the epidemic surveillance program to clinic patients below 18 years of age to help identify earlier infections

Sara Ho Yuen-ha, chief manager of the Hospital Authority’s Patient Safety and Risk Management Unit

Although the building’s management has banned all public events on the premises, the Department of Health said there’s no need to evacuate the building’s tenants at this stage.

The two latest confirmed cases involved a 70-year-old woman, who lives in Tseung Kwan O and had been to the temple, and an 89-year-old female with underlying medical conditions who lives in North Point.

The Department of Health has contacted 221 people who had visited the temple. Chuang Shuk-kwan, who heads the department’s Communicable Disease Branch, said on Thursday 35 of them have been quarantined and 160 are under medical surveillance.

Another case of mass local infections involved 11 people, who contracted the potentially lethal disease after dining with about 20 others in a restaurant in North Point on Jan 26. Two other people who had close contact with the group were also infected.

Sara Ho Yuen-ha, chief manager of the Hospital Authority’s Patient Safety and Risk Management Unit, said the HA may expand the epidemic surveillance program to clinic patients below 18 years of age to help identify earlier infections.

Under the program, the Authority will hand out take-home testing kits to outpatient clinic patients aged 18 and above with minor flu-like symptoms.

Ho also said Hong Kong is discussing with a United States pharmaceutical factory clinical trial arrangement for Remdesivir, a new drug that was cited by the World Health Organization as potentially effective in the treatment of coronavirus-infected patients. 

According to media reports, clinical tests for the drug are not expected to be carried out in Hong Kong until mid-March at the earliest. Similar tests have been conducted in the US and Wuhan, Hubei province — the epicenter of the epidemic.

kathyzhang@chinadailyhk.com



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