Concern grows as another maid comes down with Covid - RTHK
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Concern grows as another maid comes down with Covid

2020-08-06 HKT 19:04
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  • Concern grows as another maid comes down with Covid
Another foreign domestic helper who recently stayed at a boarding house has tested positive for coronavirus, as health authorities expressed concern at the prospect of a large-scale outbreak involving these often-crowded accommodations.

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) also blamed miscommunication for mistakenly saying on Wednesday that 28 helpers who had stayed with a confirmed case had all gone to their respective employers and needed to be tracked down.

Chuang Shuk-kwan said on Thursday that it turns out that only one had left to stay with her employer, and the rest were still at the same boarding house in Wan Chai.

Covid tests were being arranged for all, she said.

Further investigations found that the helper had stayed at a third boarding house – at the Sunlight Employment Agency in On Ning Building – from July 21-22 with around 13 other domestic helpers.

Chuang said communication problems with both the helper and her agency meant officials were having a hard time pinning down her exact whereabouts throughout the incubation period, and there are certain days where they still aren’t sure where she had been.

"We have some language barrier with her… She wanted to tell us but she couldn’t tell us exactly the whereabouts and the exact location. That's why we need to ask the agent to find out and also seek help from the police to find out more about the exact location," Chuang said.

A preliminary positive test involving another Indonesian helper on Thursday further underlined the risks at these often-crowded boarding houses.

The CHP said the helper had stayed at accommodations in Kin On Commercial Building in Sheung Wan with four to six other helpers, before moving to her new employer’s home on Saturday.

She was taken to hospital after developing a fever on Wednesday, and subsequently tested positive for the virus.

The CHP said the family she works for would be sent to a quarantine camp, and officials were also trying to get in touch with the other helpers she stayed with to be tested as well.

Chuang said these recent events demonstrate the risk that of a possible mass outbreak among migrant workers – like what happened previously in Singapore

"In these hostel settings, they’re usually crowded, and [people] share facilities that is easily to transmit Covid-19, that’s why I think the relevant government departments will look into it and see what we can do.”

The CHP reported 95 coronavirus cases in all on Thursday, with all but four being locally-transmitted infections. Of the local cases, 52 are linked to previously confirmed infections, and 39 have no known source of transmission.

Meanwhile, authorities confirmed that an 85-year-old coronavirus patient died on Thursday afternoon, taking the death toll linked to Covid-19 here to 44.

The male patient had suffered from chronic illnesses and lived at Cornwall Elderly's Home in Tuen Mun, where dozens of residents and staff have come down with the virus.