Covid-19 patients at the makeshift hospital at Hong Kong’s AsiaWorld-Expo will be offered the option to receive Chinese medicine treatments starting Tuesday, a Hospital Authority (HA) spokesperson announced at a routine press briefing Monday. The facility houses patients with mild or no symptoms.

File Photo: GovHK.

A panel of experts from Hong Kong’s three Chinese medicine university faculties have designed a treatment programme to be prescribed by the authority’s Chinese practitioners, the authority’s Chinese medicine department Rowena Wong said: “Patient enrolment is on voluntary basis. The services will be arranged for eligible persons aged 18 or above who are suitable to be treated with Chinese Medicine after being clinically assessed by a Western medicine doctor and a Chinese medicine practitioner.”

Lin Zhixiu, associate director of Chinese University of Hong Kong’s School of Chinese Medicine, said studies have shown such treatments to be effective: “Clinical results from the mainland show that it is over 90 per cent effective in alleviating symptoms like fevers and coughs, reducing death rate, and preventing patients from developing more severe symptoms.”

See also: HKFP Lens: Inside Hong Kong’s first Covid-19 lockdown zone

The HA has, since April last year, offered outpatient Chinese medicine treatment to over 700 recovered Covid-19 patients. It has has been effective in alleviating post-recovery symptoms such as wheezing and coughing, Wong said.

Quarantine and community treatment facilities at AsiaWorld-Expo. Photo: GovHK.

Hong Kong recorded 73 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, including 13 who were identified during the Jordan lockdown over the weekend.

Nurses infected

Also on Monday, three Queen Elizabeth Hospital nurses have tested preliminary positive, leading the HA to suspend patient intake at two of its general wards to prevent further transmissions. One of the nurses is believed to be infected in the community and not from the hospital, as the building she resides in recorded another coronavirus case, Hospital Authority Chief Manager (Quality & Standards) Lau Ka-hin said.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Jordan. File photo: HKFP/Tom Grundy.

The second nurse has been working at the hospital’s isolation ward for Covid-19 patients and shared a work shift with the third nurse on January 13. The latter finished his isolation ward duty last week and returned to work at a general ward by the time symptoms appeared.

Nine other nurses considered to be close contacts have been placed under quarantine. Lau urged Hongkongers to avoid seeking treatment at the hospital’s emergency room owing to the temporary shortage of personnel: “Citizens in need are advised to seek medical service at our out-patient clinics or at private clinics,” said Lau. “We are coordinating with other hospitals to share our load and reduce any impact on our services.”

Critical emergency services are not affected, Lau said, and the HA is arranging a thorough cleaning operation of its facility while all its staff tests for the virus.

Evacuation at Laguna City

The authorities also evacuated residents of “E” flats on all floors of a block at Laguna City, Nam Tin. “We now see a situation of vertical transmission, between flats 15E, 16E and 17E,” said Yuen Kwok-yung, microbiologist on the government’s coronavirus panel of experts, who inspected the building Monday.

Microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung. File Photo: RTHK, via video screenshot.

Six residents at “E” flats spanning the three adjacent floors, along with four others from nearby flats, and two security guards recently tested positive for the virus. One of the guards lives on Reclamation Street, which came under Hong Kong’s first localised lockdown over the weekend.

“We don’t see much problem from the [building] exterior, but we wonder if there might have been a ‘chimney effect’ caused by the building’s air well, where trapped air circulates between flats, Yuen said.

Hong Kong has recorded 10,086 Covid-19 cases and 170 deaths.

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.