Hong Kong Health Officials Reveal More Details About City’s First Death Due to Coronavirus

By Frank Fang
Frank Fang
Frank Fang
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers US, China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
February 4, 2020Updated: February 6, 2020

Health officials have confirmed the first death in Hong Kong due to the new coronavirus and also reported two new confirmed cases in the city.

Lau Ka-hin, chief manager of quality and standards at Hong Kong’s Health Authority, and Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch of the Centre for Health Protection, held a joint press conference on Feb. 4 afternoon local time.

The Centre for Health Protection is an agency under the Department of Health.

Prior to his death, the 39-year-old male living in Whampoa Garden, a housing estate in Kowloon, had been in stable condition over the past few days, Lau said.

However, Lau said the patient’s condition deteriorated rapidly at around 6 a.m. local time Feb. 4. He died roughly four hours later after having heart failure.

Lau said he did not know the final cause of the patient’s death at the moment, adding that he had been suffering from diabetes prior to being infected with the coronavirus.

Hong Kong media reported that the patient had recently traveled to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus first broke out. He traveled from Hong Kong to Wuhan on a high-speed train on Jan. 21, then returned to Hong Kong two days later, via a train at the Changsha South Railway Station in southern China’s Hunan Province.

On Jan. 29, he began having muscle pains and then developed a fever. He tested positive for the virus on Jan. 31—the 13th confirmed case of coronavirus in Hong Kong.

The patient’s 72-year-old mother is also infected with the virus, according to Chuang.

Lau added that there are now 17 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Hong Kong, with two in critical condition.

Chuang elaborated on the two new cases of infections. Both involved local residents with no recent travel history outside of Hong Kong. The first case is a 64-year-old woman, who runs a local clothing store named “Fresh Up,” located in the Jordan neighborhood in Kowloon.

The woman developed a cough on Jan. 23 and then had a fever on Jan. 30. She was then hospitalized on Feb. 1 and is now in critical condition, Chuang said.

The official added that the woman’s son had recently visited Taiwan and Japan. The son has not tested positive for the coronavirus.

Chuang called on people who recently visited the clothing store to voluntarily contact the local Department of Health.

The second new infection involves a 60-year-old male retiree living in Lam Tin, an area in the Kwun Tong District in New Kowloon. Chuang said the retiree began having a fever on Jan. 22 and was hospitalized on Jan. 31.

Chuang warned that both new cases are examples of local human-to-human transmission, and that there could be a large-scale contagion in the future.