Cholera checks at 14 restaurants
At least 14 restaurants supplied with sea water from Sai Kung were checked for cholera yesterday after the temporary closure of a Mongkok restaurant.
Water samples were taken from the outlets as Food and Environmental Hygiene Department inspectors tried to trace the source of the Ogawa cholera strain found in a water sample at the Manchu Chinese Seafood Hotpot Restaurant in the basement of New Wish Mansion in Nathan Road, Mongkok.
The restaurant remained closed for a second day yesterday for cleaning and disinfection. Its four other outlets in Wan Chai, Tsuen Wan, Yau Ma Tei and Tsim Sha Tsui were inspected and water samples and environmental swabs taken, a department spokeswoman said. In addition, more than 10 restaurants that bought water from the same supplier were also inspected and samples were taken, she said.
The chain had suffered a 10 per cent drop in business since the closure of its Mongkok outlet, chairman Wong Ka-leong said. 'We have done three times more cleaning work than on a normal day,' he said.
Lo Kin-wah, manager of the Mongkok branch, said it had been using the Hoi Fai Engineering Company to supply water to its fish pool and four tanks and to disinfect them for a year. He said Hoi Fai had drawn water from Cho Wo Hang in Sai Kung.
The department spokeswoman said although it was not illegal to use sea water to keep fresh fish, local sea water was usually contaminated and unsuitable for such purposes.
Legislator Dr Lo Wing-lok, who represents the medical sector, said it would be hard to ban the use of sea water in food outlets and to licence water collectors.
The Manchu is the only restaurant found to have the cholera bacteria so far this year since a spate of cholera cases. It was one of three premises that a 50-year-old man from Fanling had dined in before falling sick.
Seventeen people have contracted cholera so far this year.