HONG KONG (UPDATED) - A Filipino domestic worker who arrived in Hong Kong from the Philippines on March 11 was among 48 new cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on Friday, the highest number reported in a day in the former British colony, according to local health authorities.
At a regular press conference on Friday, Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan, Head of the Communicable Disease Branch of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health, said the domestic worker started to have runny nose and didn't feel well on March 13. She later went to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Shatin where tests were conducted.
The news came as the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong also announced that one of the Filipinos who earlier tested positive for COVID-19 has been discharged from the hospital on March 20.
"Only one Filipino patient remains in hospital isolation," Consul General Raly Tejada said.
Tejada told ABS-CBN News that the Filipino domestic worker may not have necessarily contracted COVID-19 in the Philippines as she transited via Taipei from Manila and spent overnight at the airport.
The Filipino reportedly remembers sitting with someone who was coughing on the flight back to Hong Kong from Taipei, Tejada said.
Previously, the Filipinos who tested positive for COVID-19 are all domestic workers and had no travel history. This could be the first case of imported COVID-19 infection from the Philippines to Hong Kong, for a domestic worker.
"Maaaring dito (Hong Kong) niya din nakuha kasi sabi niya nung dumating siya noong 11 March, wala siya symptoms but lumabas sila ng amo niya noong 12 March naka t-shirt lang daw siya. By 13 March nilagnat na siya,"said Tejada in a message to ABS-CBN News.
(It's also possible that she caught it here because when she arrived here on March 11, she didn't have symptoms, but she and her employer went out on March 12 and she was only wearing a t-shirt. By March 13, she was having a fever.)
Hong Kong on March 19 enforced its compulsory home quarantine for all travelers (except Mainland China, Macau and Taiwan) entering the city in hopes to avoid stressing Hong Kong's healthcare system. Violators face a fine of up to HK$25,000 (P150,000) and 6 months in jail.
As of noon on March 20, the Hospital Authority reported to the Department of Health the admission of 267 patients (121 male and 146 female) in the past 24 hours who met the reporting criteria of COVID-19.
There are currently 363 patients under isolation. So far, 98 patients who had COVID-19 confirmed or probable infections have been discharged upon recovery. The city with a population of about 7 million people, has reported more than 200 confirmed cases as of March 20.
Filipinos who were among the hundreds of passengers who arrived in Hong Kong on March 19 are now under the government-imposed home quarantine, as authorities told the city to brace for a second wave of mostly imported infections.
There are over 200,000 cases of COVID-19 globally with over 9,000 deaths. Some 80,000 people have recovered.