An elderly woman who tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday likely caught it in during her recent stay at a private hospital when another patient in the same ward took off his mask to eat a sandwich, according to infectious disease expert Yuen Kwok-yung.
The 86-year-old woman stayed at the Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital in Happy Valley last month to undergo dialysis for her kidney condition.
Her bed was next to a 72-year-old man who was confirmed to have contracted coronavirus last week.
After inspecting the Renal Dialysis Centre at hospital, Professor Yuen told reporters he found out that the male patient had taken off his mask to eat a sandwich for 15 minutes.
That’s probably when the virus become aerosolised and infected the woman, Yuen said, even though they probably didn’t speak to one another.
However, he noted that the woman had tested negative for the virus twice before her positive result, and she did not have a high viral load.
He urged the hospital to test all 50 patients who had recently underwent dialysis there for Covid, noting that their immune systems are likely to be compromised by their kidney conditions.
The hospital later said in a statement that they have contacted all of the patients and have arranged Covid tests for them. They have also given health authorities the details of two patients who stayed in the same area of the ward as the infected woman.
Meanwhile, Professor Yuen also looked into the infection of a 77-year-old woman who had stayed in the same hospital since August, and died shortly after she was confirmed with the virus last week.
She had terminal cancer, and had eaten pizza with several relatives – several of whom later came down with the virus. One of them has been linked to the cluster involving dance studios.
The expert said people are most at risk when they take off their masks, and that’s how most patients pick up the bug.
Yuen urged people to avoid dining out as the number of Covid-19 cases have been surging.
He said while he understands that people are getting tired with maintaining social distancing, vigilance is necessary before Covid vaccines become available.
Last updated: 2020-12-02 HKT 20:22
'Kidney patient likely caught Covid in hospital'
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