Hong Kong authorities have finally put an 88-year-old mother in touch with her family after she was sent from her nursing home to a temporary quarantine centre. Following HKFP’s reporting, Jessica Denecke spoke to her mother at AsiaWorld-Expo after she was transferred from the Covid-hit Kwai Chung Estate on Sunday.

A spokesperson from the Social Welfare Department told HKFP that a video call was arranged between Denecke and her mother on Wednesday morning, adding that families were able to call their elderly relatives with assistance from the centre’s staff “when needed.”

Jessica Denecke and her 88-year-old mother in an earlier photo. Photo: Supplied.

Contrary to the spokesperson’s claim, Denecke said that she had spoken to her mother on phone for around 15 minutes on Wednesday, but that it was not a video call.

“[S]he’s okay. [She] mentioned that the meal arrangement was a bit messed up and that she didn’t receive lunch or dinner sometimes,” Denecke told HKFP. “[I] haven’t been able to reach my mother by her cellphone since then.”

A member of staff at the AsiaWorld-Expo quarantine centre also told Denecke that her mother’s mobile phone was “packed away” with other personal belongings to prevent risk of infection, but promised Denecke that it would be retrieved so that she and her mother could speak for the remainder of the quarantine period.

Photo: Supplied.

Denecke’s mother was sent to the temporary quarantine centre for residents of elderly care homes at AsiaWorld-Expo on Sunday, after a 49-year-old nurse who worked at the Evergreen Nursing Home in Kwai Chung Estate was diagnosed with Covid-19. The 88-year-old moved in to the Evergreen Nursing home last month and has been bedridden since suffering two strokes in 2016.

Denecke was distraught to learn that her mother – who wears adult diapers – would not be showered during her 14-day quarantine at the AsiaWorld-Expo.

Showers ‘on instruction by medical officers’

The SWD spokesperson said nursing staff at the AsiaWorld-Expo quarantine centre would clean the faces and mouths of elderly residents twice a day. Staff would also wipe down and change adult diapers “when needed” and clean their bodies after every change.

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

The centre is equipped with shower facilities and shower beds, but nursing staff will only offer showers “on instruction by medical officers” to avoid causing the coronavirus to spread through steam from showers.

The spokesperson declined to provide the number of contract staff operating the centre’s 320 beds, but said it has two nursing teams, with members including nurses and carers providing round the clock service.


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.