A chronically ill woman who died after her sole carer was sent to a Covid-19 isolation site in Hong Kong did not receive prompt attention from health authorities due to an urgent manpower shortage, a government executive officer has told the Coroner’s Court.
A five-member jury was empanelled on Monday to determine the cause and circumstances of the death of retiree Lui Suk-hang, who took her last breath while she also waited for her quarantine arrangements to be made.
The court heard Lui was found dead at a public flat in Tai Wai’s Mei Lam Estate on December 12, 2020, three days after she was separated from her daughter who tested positive for Covid-19. An autopsy found the 62-year-old woman also carried the coronavirus.
Lui had a kidney problem, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension. She had lived separately from her husband for 18 years before her death.
Tse testified her decision was based on what a nurse wrote down on Lui’s case file after a telephone interview with the daughter of the deceased.
“She displayed no symptoms at the time. Her daughter needed to work during the day, and she could take care of herself,” the doctor said, adding the nurse did not note down any special needs required.
But Kung Fung-mei, the nurse who conducted the interview, said she had believed Lui would only need to wait for one or two days before she could receive medical attention at a quarantine facility. She also noted the retired woman’s health condition was stable at the time.
“I also had to race against the clock,” she said.
Lee Chung-kin, a project manager at the Centre for Health Protection responsible for supervising the operation of quarantine centres, said Lui’s death had prompted the senior management to adopt a new computer system for gathering data of close contacts. It had also hired more administrative and medical workers to ensure any individual medical needs could be quickly addressed, he said.
The inquest before Coroner Monica Chow Wai-choo is expected to last eight days.