Six blocks are undergoing repairs, while a hospital sewage leak raises concern Around 500 private residential blocks in Hong Kong have serious drainage problems, six of which are considered so dangerous, in light of the recent Sars outbreak at Amoy Gardens, that the Buildings Department has begun immediate repairs. The government told legislators of the problem buildings yesterday, as 30 patients at United Christian Hospital had to be removed from a ward after the discovery of a leaking sewage pipe, the second found at the hospital in just over a week. The incident has sparked outrage among medics and legislators. Government contractors are now repairing drainage pipes of six private properties in Causeway Bay, To Kwa Wan, Kowloon City, Tsuen Wan and two in Shamshuipo. The Buildings Department will bill the landlords for the repairs. It has also issued notices to landlords of about 500 residential buildings requiring sewerage maintenance work and another 70 that need repair for serious leakage or damage in their pipes. Last month, the department started to inspect the drainage systems of 12,000 private residential buildings that have no managers or residential associations. The move came after a report showed that a faulty drainage system was to blame for the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) among 300 people in the Kowloon Bay residential estate of Amoy Gardens. Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen Ming-yeung told the Legislative Council yesterday that inspection and maintenance of the drainage pipes was the key to avoiding another Amoy Gardens-type incident. He added that current government guidelines for sewage system design met international standards and said that there was no need to change the legislation. 'The Amoy Gardens report indicated that a few factors coincidentally came together, leading to the outbreak,' Mr Suen said. 'I emphasise the importance of repair of these pipes. 'If we can ensure that there are no problems with maintenance, we can avoid [another similar incident].' Repairs were immediately made on the United Christian Hospital pipe on Tuesday, which is located inside the ceiling of the fifth-floor B ward on the Sir Run Run Shaw Building in the hospital. About 30 patients and several staff were moved to another floor during the repair work, a hospital spokeswoman said. The patients were not advised to monitor their health as the risk of Sars infection was nil because the pipe was not fed by any of the hospital's four Sars wards, she added. On April 28, the hospital closed off an electrodiagnostic unit after discovering a leak on a sewage pipe linking it to Sars wards. Fifty patients were called back for checks but so far none has shown Sars-like symptoms. As of yesterday, the public hospital in Kowloon had 37 patients with Sars, 16 of whom are health-care workers. The Democratic Party legislator representing Kowloon West, which includes Amoy Gardens, Fred Li Wah-ming, said: 'It is astonishing to hear it is the second time they have this sort of problem. 'The Hospital Authority should really investigate what is wrong with the hospital management and provide the maintenance to prevent infections,' added Mr Li, who is also chairman of the food safety and environmental hygiene panel. The Frontier legislator Cyd Ho Sau-lang said: 'It is disappointing. It is the Hospital Authority's duty to see all hospitals [meet] good hygiene standards and are well-maintained, particularly the pipes.'' Kwok Ka-ki, convenor of the Action Group on Medical Policy, said the hospital's patients in the leaking ward should still be monitored for Sars symptoms. He added that with the knowledge that the virus could spread through faulty sewerage systems and stay in human waste, 'all hospitals should pay extra attention to waste disposal and sewage pipes''.