A confirmed COVID-19 patient waited at home for three days before finally calling an ambulance and admitting herself to hospital, a district councilor says.
Jasper Law, the chairperson of the Northern District Council, told RTHK on Wednesday that a 40-year-old woman in Fanling was informed that she tested positive for the coronavirus on July 22. Authorities told her to stay put while they arranged to transfer her to a hospital.
Still waiting at home, the woman eventually sought help from Law on July 25, who suggested that she call an ambulance. Only then was she admitted—about 90 hours after learning of her diagnosis.
The woman has no known epidemiological links and the source of her infection is not known.
Law said her two sons, aged 8 and 10, both developed a fever and have since also tested positive. They have been transferred to Prince of Wales Hospital.
Her husband, who was confirmed negative for the virus, visited a market, grocery stores and fast food restaurants while her wife was in self-quarantine at home.
“Patients [waiting at home] are very helpless,” Law said in the RTHK segment. “Asking patients to stay at home is not a problem. The problem is you have no guidelines for them.”
On Facebook, Law said he had called the North District Hospital and found out that they did have isolation beds that were unoccupied. He criticized authorities for mishandling the situation.
He urged the government to provide more assistance for patients told to quarantine at home while waiting to be admitted to hospital, and to communicate closely with district councillors on these matters to prevent further spread of the disease.
Authorities have admitted that patients who test positive for the virus are not immediately being sent to hospital due to the surge in cases in recent days. They explained that older patients, and those with underlying illness, are prioritized, and they hope others can stay put and be patient while arrangements are being made.
The third COVID-19 wave has caught the city off guard, and many fear the medical system could be on the brink of collapse if infections continue to climb. According to reports, Beijing could send mainland Chinese personnel to Hong Kong to help build a field hospital to house patients if the need arises.
Sara Ho, a chief manager at the Hospital Authority, said that nearly 80% of the negative pressure isolation beds were occupied in an afternoon press conference on Wednesday.
“We’re trying to free up more beds for patients in urgent need by transferring recovering patients to second-tier isolation beds and community quarantine center in Lei Yue Mun.” Ho said, referring to a makeshift facility where younger, stable patients are being brought to.
On Monday, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung announced the tightest public health measures since the outbreak began in January, including a ban on dining in restaurants and a mandatory mask policy even in outdoor areas.
To date, the city has recorded 3,002 COVID-19 infections, including 118 new cases on Wednesday. 24 patients have died of virus-related complications.
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