HONG KONG (China Daily/ANN): Some one hundred residents of Hong Mei House in Tsing Yi were evacuated and quarantined around 11 pm on Monday (Feb 10) after two residents living on two different floors contracted the novel coronavirus.
Experts said it was possible that the virus had been transmitted through a U-shaped trap below a waste outlet of the residential building’s flushing system.
A similarly-designed waste outlet at Amoy Gardens in Kwun Tung was believed to be responsible for the extensive transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 in the residential estate.
Hong Kong recorded 42 confirmed infections so far. The latest case involves a 75-year-old woman who lives in a unit similar to the one occupied by 12th person in Hong Kong to have contracted the infection. Their flats were 10 floors apart.
According to leading microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung, the toilet pipeline of the unit occupied by the elderly woman is not concealed, making it highly possible that the virus transmitted via the pipeline of a higher floor in which the other patient, currently in hospital, resides.
Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP) inspected Hong Mei House, Cheung Hong Estate on Monday night and checked on residents living in similar units – numbered 07 - of the entire block across 30 floors.
Symptomatic residents will be sent to hospital for isolation while asymptomatic residents will be issued quarantine orders and be transferred to a quarantine centre.
The Department of Health will provide residents with guidelines on professional cleaning and disinfection of drainage pipes and has urged people to regularly pour about half a liter of water into each drain outlet (U-traps) to ensure environmental hygiene. It has also urged residents to put the toilet lid down before flushing to keep germs from spreading.
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the Housing Department will conduct a thorough cleaning and disinfection of the building.
In a press release issued early Tuesday, CHP said that as of 8pm Monday, it was investigating six additional cases of novel coronavirus infection, taking to 42 the number of confirmed cases so far in Hong Kong.
Of the four, two are related to the male patient who was identified on Feb 9 as the 27th person in HK to have been infected. The 55-year-old woman and a 52-year-old man happen to be the aunt and uncle of the male patient. The two were part of a family gathering of 19 people on Jan 26.
The 55-year-old woman lives in Tai Wo House in Sha Tin's Wo Che estate. She became symptomatic on Jan 30 and consulted a private doctor on the same day. On Feb 9, she was admitted to Prince of Wales Hospital where she tested positive for the virus. She is now in stable condition.
Her husband is asymptomatic and is under quarantine, while her son has developed symptoms and is admitted to Prince of Wales Hospital for isolation and treatment. - China Daily/Asia News Network