A Filipina domestic worker in Hong Kong was confirmed today to have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, taking the total tally of cases in the city to 61.
This afternoon, health officials said at a press briefing that the 32-year-old woman is currently being hospitalized at Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan. Her 67-year-old female employer was the city’s 52nd confirmed coronavirus patient, and was diagnosed on Feb. 13.
Chuang Shuk-kwan, communicable disease chief at the Center for Health Protection, said the Filipina had been sick since early February with a cough and fever, and initially tested negative for the coronavirus, but returned a positive result a few days later.
Chuang said that the center has been trying to contact the woman’s friends, at least 10 of whom were picnicking with her outside Hong Kong City Hall on Feb. 9.
Health authorities had previously revealed that the woman’s employer was one of at least five people believed to have contracted the virus during a meal at a seafood restaurant in North Point on Jan. 26.
The news of the Filipina worker’s infection comes just as officials in the Philippines today announced that domestic workers in Hong Kong and Macau were to be exempted from a ban on travel to China and its special administrative regions. The Philippine government imposed the ban earlier this month after the country saw the first confirmed COVID-19-linked fatality outside of mainland China.
The ban had left several hundred domestic workers stranded in the Philippines and unable to return to work.
Other Philippine citizens are still barred from traveling to China, while all other nationalities seeking to travel to the Philippines from China are likewise barred. So far the Philippines has only had three confirmed cases of coronavirus, all of them imported.