CHP hospitalizes wrong family member, blames ‘Nepali names’ for mix-up

Let’s be clear: we know Hong Kong has it pretty good in regards to coronavirus testing. Accurate testing is available to people who may have been exposed to the virus for just HKD50 at government-run and private clinics, and results are available within a few days (or minutes if you opt for the less accurate blood test).

That being said, the accuracy of your test doesn’t mean anything if your results get confused with another patient’s. During the Center for Health Protection’s daily coronavirus briefing today, CHP controller Wong Ka-hing said it was possible that health workers had mixed up the test results for a father and son because “Nepali names look quite similar to us”.

The pair was tested for the coronavirus in a quarantine center after they were exposed to a close contact who was confirmed to have the disease. Yesterday, their test results came back, and seemingly confirmed that the father had tested positive, while his son had tested negative. The former spent the night in a hospital isolation ward, while the latter was left in the quarantine center.

After “several hours”, health officials discovered that the results had been switched, and arranged for the relatives to swap places. Wong said that other people in the quarantine center were unlikely to be affected, as the family members had stayed in their own contained unit.

At the time of writing, Hong Kong’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen to 935. Out of 21 new cases that were announced at today’s briefing, 12 patients had been overseas recently. Three local cases were revealed to be Marks & Spencer staff members, who had caught the virus at a farewell karaoke party for a colleague.

The three patients all worked at separate M&S outlets (Plaza Hollywood, Shun Tak Center, and Windsor House), which will remain closed for 14 days and thoroughly disinfected. All other M&S stores will be closed today and tomorrow for cleaning.

Last week, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that all bars, pubs, karaoke lounges, and mahjong parlors would be closed for two weeks. Yesterday, the government extended its travel ban on non-residents indefinitely in a bid to contain the virus.

Related stories:
COVID Catchup: Bar bans, tiny protests, and 130 riot police quarantined
Singapore to shut Changi’s Terminal 2 for 18 months due to COVID-19


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