United Christian Hospital stops admitting COVID-19 patients amid hospital outbreak

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Hospital Authority Chief Executive Dr. Tony Ko (centre) speaks to the media. (SCREENSHOT: Hospital Authority/Facebook)

The Hospital Authority (HA) said the United Christian Hospital (UCH) will temporarily stop admitting COVID-19 patients in their wards as six more coronavirus infections linked to the growing hospital cluster were confirmed on Monday.

Dr. Tony Ko, HA Chief Executive, said the UCH will be realigning manpower as many of the hospital staff are under quarantine.

“It’s a way we can alleviate some of the pressures but at the same time, without significantly affecting our credibility to look after COVID patients,” Ko said in a press briefing.

Ko added there are still plenty of isolation beds available in the 42 other public hospitals, as well as the community treatment facility at the AsiaWorld-Expo.

An 84-year-old female patient was believed to be at the centre of the cluster. She stayed in UCH’s palliative care ward and was considered a “super-spreader” of the virus.

Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan, Centre for Health Protection (CHP) Communicable Disease Branch head, said in a press briefing that there were six new cases added to the UCH cluster—who all tested preliminary positive yesterday.

There are now 12 patients and seven UCH staff members who tested positive for COVID-19. About 70 hospital medics were quarantined.

Another Vietnamese illegal immigrant was among the new local cases after one who was arrested in Ta Kwo Ling on Dec. 21 tested positive for the coronavirus. The new case was a Vietnamese female nabbed on Dec. 10 who tested positive after her transfer to the Ma Tau Kok Detention Centre.

She shared a cubicle with six inmates. More tests will be conducted at the centre, Chuang said, and authorities are investigating to check if there are links between both cases.

Chuang added that residents and visitors of Ming Shui House, Lek Yuen Estate in Sha Tin will be ordered to test for COVID-19 if a preliminary positive case from a fourth separate unit is confirmed.

The CHP logged 60 local cases—of which 19 have untraceable origins. The sole imported case is a 33-year-old domestic worker from the Philippines who arrived via Cebu Pacific flight 5J272 on Dec. 26.

Monday’s COVID-19 tally brings the city’s coronavirus case total to 8,672 cases.

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