5th August 2020 – (Hong Kong) Dr.Chuang Shuk-kwan from Centre for Health Protection (CHP) announced at 4.30pm today that there are 85 new COVID-19 local cases (as of 12am today) including 3 imported cases and 82 local cases. 49 of the local cases are linked to previous cases while 33 cases have unknown sources.
Case no.3664 is an Indonesian domestic helper who developed symptoms on 1st August. She left her employer on 20th July and stayed with 28 other domestic helpers in a unit operated by KL Home Care Ltd on Lockhart Road in Wan Chai between 22nd – 23rd July. All the other domestic helpers returned to their employers after staying with her. CHP is currently tracing the other domestic helpers who were in close contact with her via the agency and she asked employers to pay particular attention as it has been more than 2 weeks since they returned to their respective employers. Infected patients would have developed symptoms by now. CHP is still investigating the whereabouts of the patient between 23rd to 30th July.
After 23rd July, she also stayed in another unit at Flat 703B, 7F, Causeway Bay Commercial Building, 1-5, Sugar Street, Causeway Bay (owned by Perfect Maid Centre Agency) where there were at least 4 more domestic helpers who lived together with her between 30th and 31st July. All the 4 domestic helpers and employees need to undergo quarantine and medical testing.
The potential outbreak resulting from domestic helpers can become a bigger threat when compared with the recent cluster outbreaks in Hung Hom and To Kwan Wan wet markets as some of the 28 domestic helpers who stayed with the infected patient may have been infected and the virus may have transmitted to their employers and family members.
Within the last two weekends, foreign domestic helpers continued to gather in Central and Victoria Park in Causeway Bay despite the gathering ban of up to a maximum of 2 people.
On the first Sunday (2nd August) after the introduction of the new regulations, many foreign domestic helpers continued to gather in Central in groups of over 2. In the morning, the Statute Square in Central was crowded with foreign domestic helpers who gathered in groups, not to mention social distancing. Some of them wore face masks while chatting, while others lowered their masks to eat and smoke. Security officers and police officers were present to observe the situation, but no further action was taken. Many foreign domestic helpers gathered on Chater Road and around the Alexandra Building and several tents were set up. Some of them used cardboards as partitions and many were not wearing masks.
Police have merely issued verbal warnings to the domestic helpers and no fixed penalty tickets have been issued to-date The fine of HK$2,000 would be a burden for them due to their meagre salaries. Domestic helpers are the only people in the city that are still gathering in large groups during Sundays but there may be virus supercarriers amongst them who can spread the virus very fast among their own groups before passing to their employers at home. The government should stop the domestic helpers from gathering for at least two weeks to curb the spread of the virus and conduct mass virus testing all domestic helpers similar to taxi drivers and minibus drivers.
Even though this measure will deprive the domestic helpers from enjoying their weekend breaks, the action is inevitable if the government wants to prevent further outbreak in the community.