Boy in hostel after hospital declines to admit him Concern mounted yesterday for the health of domestic helpers crammed into a packed shelter after a two-year-old boy at the shelter caught chicken pox from another resident. About 30 women were yesterday sleeping in bunk beds crammed into a 500-sq-ft bedroom at Bethune House, with two women to each bed. The boy is still at the Kowloon centre, set up by the St John's Cathedral-affiliated Mission for Filipino Migrant Workers, after a hospital declined to admit him, saying his condition did not warrant it. The boy, who caught the disease from an Indonesian helper staying at the centre, developed fever and blisters and was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital on March 28. Bethune House management sent a letter appealing for the boy to be admitted because of the overcrowding, but doctors at the accident and emergency department turned him away, said Cynthia Tellez, executive director of the mission. A hospital spokesman said last night that admission was based on the 'clinical condition of the patient and the clinical judgment of the doctor'. A chicken pox patient was admitted only if there was a complication of the disease. Bethune House is always stretched to its full 30-person capacity and in the past few years has served as a shelter not only for Filipinos, but also for Indonesians and other nationalities. For the sake of the boy, volunteers have been spraying bedding and furnishings daily, Ms Tellez said. The boy had to be brought downstairs to another corner of the two-storey building while fumigation was carried out, she said. 'We are worried because the incubation period [of the illness] lasts until his vesicles have dried up,' said one volunteer. According to the Centre for Health Protection, the incubation period is two to three weeks. Chickenpox 'is an acute infectious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus ... It is extremely contagious, especially among young children', the centre says. Although it confers life-long immunity, the virus may remain dormant and may recur as 'herpes zoster or shingles'. The boy's mother took him to hospital after seeing blisters on his skin and that he was running a fever. She showed a letter from Bethune House management explaining the overcrowded conditions at the hostel so the boy could be admitted for treatment, shelter volunteers said. But doctors at the hospital refused, instead giving the boy medicine and advising the mother 'to come back to hospital' once the medicine was finished. Chickenpox is a mild illness, according to the centre, which comes under the auspices of the Department of Health. 'However, those with low body resistance are most likely to suffer from complications, such as skin infection, scarlet fever, pneumonia and encephalitis,' it said. A spokesman for the Department of Health said there was no government policy involving hospital admission of chickenpox cases. 'Patients should see a doctor right away and get advice,' he said.