15th person tests positive for Wuhan coronavirus as hospital workers go on strike

A 72-year-old woman is taken to Princess Margaret Hospital after testing positive for the Wuhan coronavirus. Screengrab via Apple Daily video.
A 72-year-old woman is taken to Princess Margaret Hospital after testing positive for the Wuhan coronavirus. Screengrab via Apple Daily video.

A total of three people tested positive this weekend for the potentially fatal Wuhan coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in Hong Kong to 15.

According to a statement from the Centre for Health Protection published on Sunday night, the 15th case is a 72-year-old woman who lives in Whampoa Garden, a private housing estate in Hung Hom. She had been put into quarantine with her daughter-in-law, grandson, granddaughter, and domestic worker at Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village on Saturday, after her 39-year-old son tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Friday.

On the same day she was put into quarantine, she developed a fever and a cough, and was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

According to a statement from the Centre for Health Protection published on Friday, her son — referred to as the 13th case — had taken a high-speed train from Hong Kong to Wuhan on Jan. 21, and from Changshanan to Hong Kong on Jan. 23. The CHP says that he didn’t visit any visit any health care facilities or markets, or have any exposure to wild animals, the suspected origin of the virus.

The statement goes on to say that on Wednesday, Jan. 29, he started developing myalgia, or muscle pain, and decided to go to Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Friday, after developing a fever.

The remaining family members and domestic worker remain asymptomatic.

The 14th case is an 80-year-old man who lives at the Kwai Chung estate. He developed a cough on Jan. 19, but only took himself to the Caritas Medical Centre on Thursday, Jan. 30 after developing a fever that day.

According to the CHP, the man said he went to the mainland for a few hours through the Lo Wu border control point on Jan. 10, took a flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo on Jan. 17, and boarded a cruise at Yokohama on Jan. 20. The cruise arrived Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong on Jan. 25.

He too said he hadn’t visited any health care facilities or markets, or had any exposure to wild animals.

News of the new cases come as hospital workers in the city begin what they say will be a five-day strike demanding the total shutdown of the border with the mainland to stem the spread of the virus.

The strike was called by the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance and is the first of its kind coordinated by the union, which only formed in November.

At an extraordinary general meeting on Saturday, more than 3,000 union members voted in favor of the strike action, which they blamed on government intransigence.

Initially, only nonessential workers will go on strike. However, if the government fails to respond by this evening, all the union’s members will begin striking tomorrow, including thousands of essential personnel.

Other health care workers’ unions have cautioned against the move, the SCMP reports, with one nurses’ union warning it had the potential to “intensify the panic” surrounding the virus.


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