Hong Kong police called as couple who fell ill after Wuhan trip try to flee hospital isolation

A picture of the Prince of Wales Hospital. Via wiki commons.
A picture of the Prince of Wales Hospital. Via wiki commons.

Police were called to a Hong Kong hospital today after a couple showing signs of respiratory infection following a trip to Wuhan tried to flee the premises in order to avoid being put into isolation.

News of the short-lived escape attempt came as health officials announced that two more people in Hong Kong had preliminarily tested positive for the mysterious Wuhan coronavirus, though further testing is needed to be sure.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference this afternoon, Hospital Authority Director Chung Kin-lai said that the flighty couple had fallen ill, and went to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin. Hospital staff told the couple they were showing symptoms of fever and respiratory infection, and had to be placed in isolation.

“As soon as they heard they had to be isolated, they rushed out of the hospital and tried to leave,” he said.

He said hospital staff immediately called the police, and officers stopped the couple outside and brought them back in, where they are currently still in isolation.

Chung didn’t say whether or not the couple were locals or mainlanders, but police responding to an inquiry by Apple Daily confirmed that the couple — aged 63 and 62 — were from the mainland and arrived at the hospital at 3am this morning.

Chung also noted at the press briefing that as of today, more than 260 rooms on hospital grounds have been designated as staff accommodation for medical staff reluctant to go home for fear of infecting their families.

He said that the HA has also been trying to rent hotel rooms for hospital staff, but that while some have agreed to offer rooms to medical workers, others have turned down their requests.

The city has been on high alert this week after two men were found to be the first confirmed cases in Hong Kong of the mysterious and potentially fatal Wuhan coronavirus.

Authorities, meanwhile, said today that two more people, both women, aged 62, have “preliminarily” tested positive for the virus. Both are also believed to have recently visited Wuhan.

Yesterday evening, authorities announced additional measures aimed at combating the contagion’s spread, including health declaration forms at the West Kowloon rail station and the cancellation of a number of high-profile Lunar New Year events.

In the meantime, Chung has reminded people to wash their hands with soap regularly, to avoid touching their eyes and mouths, to use disinfectant wipes and gels, and to wear face masks when going out.

That last bit, however, is proving a bit tricky for the unlucky souls who turned up to pharmacies only to find that all the face masks were already sold out.

If you’re lucky, though, maybe you’ll bump into the team behind satirical news magazine 100Most, who yesterday livestreamed themselves — one of them dressed as a monk — handing out free face masks to the public while singing “Everyone please wear a face mask” to the melody of a Buddhist chant.

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