Compulsory tests on all residents of 44 blocks
Residents of 44 residential buildings - including 10 blocks from hard-hit Kwun Tong and eight from Wong Tai Sin - have been ordered to take mandatory virus tests by Monday as Hong Kong escalates checks to detect silent carriers.
This came after the Food and Health Bureau tightened the threshold for mandatory tests on housing blocks from four infected units to two, with authorities identifying buildings fulfilling the requirement in the period from December 17 to yesterday.
The 44 include 26 public housing blocks, seven under home ownership schemes and 11 private buildings.
The Standard Channel
Choi Wan Estate, which has been ordered to test residents in Ming Lai and Fung Chak houses over the past week, had three more blocks - Chi Siu, Sau Man and Kai Fai - added to the list.
Among seven blocks at Kwun Tong's Ping Shek Estate three - Kam Shek, Wong Shek and Lam Shek - were placed on the list while Tsz Ching Estate in Wong Tai Sin saw two blocks - Ching Yuk and Ching Tai - among 11 buildings affected.
Five buildings are affected in Sham Shui Po, and there are three each in Tuen Mun, Tseung Kwan O and Kwai Chung.
The remaining blocks are scattered in To Kwa Wan, Yau Ma Tei, Shek Kip Mei, Kowloon Bay, Tai Po, Yuen Long, Sha Tin, Tsing Yi, Tsuen Wan, Sheung Wan, Wan Chai and Chai Wan.
Not only are residents subject to compulsory checks - visitors who stayed in the buildings for more than two hours between December 17 and yesterday must also take the test.
Mobile specimen collection stations will be set up near the buildings and 19 community centers will offer free tests.
Chuang Shuk-kwan, the Centre for Health Protection's head of communicable disease branch, said more than 10 of the 44 buildings had multiple infected units on the same floor or shared the same unit number.
"I am reminding residents of high-rise buildings to maintain good environmental hygiene and guard against transmission through sewage," she said.
Hong Kong yesterday recorded 54 new cases in 23 males and 31 females ages five to 91. Among 47 local cases, 13 were from unknown sources.
The Hospital Authority's chief manager for patient safety and risk management, Sara Ho Yuen-ha, said an 83-year-old man who had stayed in Buddhist Hospital tested preliminary positive, after another patient and a nurse from the same ward had been previously confirmed.
The man was admitted to Buddhist's ward A5N on December 2 and discharged on December 23 to return to SKH Nursing Home in Wong Tai Sin. The next day he had a fever and was sent to the emergency unit of Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
His nasal swab tests on Friday and Monday came back negative, but a third test yesterday came back positive.
"Contact tracing showed the man had stayed in Buddhist's ward A5N but it was not the same cubicle where a previously confirmed patient stayed," Ho said. "We are tracing whether they had been in contact."
Asked if the man had undergone tests before he returned to the elderly home, Ho said: "When we discharge a care home resident, we issue a report on his last test results.
"Of course it's better to test again upon discharge, but it depends on the actual hospital operation and patient's needs. It's hard to guarantee, especially when we are in the midst of winter service surge and running on tight service."
Hong Kong's total case tally was 8,779, including 147 deaths. More than 50 preliminary positive patients are waiting for confirmation.