Hong Kong admits 2 new COVID-19 patients, including man who went to the dentist and barber after showing symptoms

Hong Kong recorded two new COVID-19 infections today, including one guy who apparently went to the dentist and the barber after he began showing symptoms.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Center for Health Protection said both of the new coronavirus cases are categorized as imported infections, as both patients had recently been abroad.

Case 1035, a 27-year-old man, traveled to Switzerland and France before returning to Hong Kong on April 21. He gave a deep throat saliva sample at AsiaWorld-Expo but was allowed to go back to his home in Sheung Wan until the results came back. After testing positive, the patient told doctors that he had a cough on March 16 and lost his senses of smell and taste on March 20. However, Chuang said the patient did not consult a doctor prior to his return as his symptoms subsided shortly afterwards. The man’s wife, who did not travel with him, has tested negative for the virus but will go into quarantine at a government facility.

Case 1036 involves a 58-year-old man who returned from San Francisco on March 24. Upon his return to Hong Kong, he spent 14 days in quarantine in a serviced apartment in Happy Valley. Despite the fact that he began experiencing symptoms — like coughing and loss of smell and taste — as early as March 30, he returned to regular life after completing his quarantine on April 6.

In the three weeks after he first showed symptoms, the 58-year-old apparently went into his office (which was thankfully empty) on April 7 and went to the dentist to get a tooth pulled on April 9. On April 20, the man finally went to a private doctor to have his blood tested for coronavirus antibodies and made an appointment to give a deep throat saliva sample the next day. Apparently he’s a multi-tasker, because he also got a haircut at the Mandarin Oriental barber on the same day he gave in his saliva sample.

(FYI, if you think you might have a highly infectious disease — especially to the point where you’re getting two different types of tests — stay at home. No haircut could possibly be worth endangering someone’s health.)

Chuang said that the risk of the dental practice’s staff contracting the virus from Case 1036 was low, as they were all wearing personal protective equipment. However, the CHP will be collecting saliva samples from everyone working there just to be safe. Three workers who had cleaned the patient’s apartment will also be tested.

“If you’re quarantining at home and experience even mild symptoms — especially loss of smell and taste, which we now know is fairly unique [to COVID-19] — please take note and let us know so we can have you tested. That way, we can confirm whether you have the virus earlier rather than later and reduce the chance of spreading it to your close contacts,” Chuang said.

During the briefing, Undersecretary of Food and Health Chui Tak-yi also discussed the Department of Health’s temporary holding center for incoming travelers in Kowloon.

The new arrangement, which started yesterday, allows residents arriving at Hong Kong International Airport in the afternoon or evening to stay at the Regal Oriental Hotel overnight. A total of 286 people were sent to the hotel yesterday, all of whom were later confirmed to have tested negative for coronavirus.

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