A 70-year-old male Hong Kong resident diagnosed with the novel coronavirus has died at Princess Margaret Hospital, bringing the city’s death toll to two.

A spokesperson for the hospital confirmed that the patient died on Wednesday morning after his condition deteriorated.

Princess Margaret Hospital
Princess Margaret Hospital. File Photo: GovHK.

The man was the 55th confirmed case in Hong Kong and was classified as possibly locally transmitted.

According to the Centre for Health Protection, the patient had underlying illnesses. He was admitted to the Accident and Emergency Department of Princess Margaret Hospital last Wednesday after a fall at his home at Shek Lei Estate in Kwai Chung, where he lived alone. He tested positive for the virus upon displaying symptoms of a fever.

The Centre previously said he travelled to mainland China through the Lok Ma Chau Control Point on January 22. He displayed symptoms such as shortness of breath and a cough 10 days afterwards.

There have been more than 75,000 confirmed cases of the novel virus with a death toll of over 2,000 globally. Hong Kong recorded 62 cases and two deaths of the SARS-like disease as of Wednesday morning.

The first death involved a 39-year-old local man who contracted the virus outside of Hong Kong. He passed away on February 4.

flu virus mask mtr
Photo: Kaiser/United Social Press.

Asked about the latest fatality, Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung told reporters at the Legislative Council: “The disease is under control but we must be cautious.”

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki told HKFP in a phone call that the second death was alarming: “It reflects the government’s failure to control the disease,” he said, adding that Cheung’s comment was “nonsense.”

Following the closure of 11 out of 15 cross-border checkpoints effective from February 4, Kwok said the rate of confirmed infections had not dropped: “[It] suggests a [risk of] community outbreak and invisible carriers with no displayable symptoms,” he said.

Kwok said the government had misled the public into believing it was safe to travel to the mainland prior to introducing travel restrictions and quarantine measures.

Legislative councillor Kwok Ka-ki
Legislative councillor Kwok Ka-ki. File photo: inmediahk.net.

The Department of Health and Centre for Health Protection held a press conference at 4:30pm about the death of the 70-year-old.

Hospital Authority Chief Manager Dr Lau Ka-hin told reporters that the patient’s oxygen blood level was low at the time of hospital admission. He was sent to the Intensive Care Unit and later connected to a life support machine. He passed away at 7:22 am. The case will be referred to the Coroner’s Court, he said.

Asked if authorities expect more deaths from the virus, Lau said they could not be certain: “We can’t say whether there will be more deaths in coming days because the patients are in [a] critical state. We [have seen] some patients change from a critical state to serious and stable,” he said.

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.