Hunt for Hong Kong tuberculosis patient who bolted from isolation ward in Kowloon Hospital
- Patient, who is about 1.64 metres tall and of thin build, ran from male ward on January 2 and has not been seen since
- Hospital security guards chased man but to no avail
The Hospital Authority is looking into how a tuberculosis patient under isolation was able to escape from his ward, Hong Kong’s health chief said.
Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said on Saturday that a search was under way for a 56-year-old man who absconded from Kowloon Hospital in Mong Kok on Wednesday.
“The Hospital Authority has reported the incident to police and we will inform everyone once we are able to find him,” Chan said.
“Any patient receives appropriate treatment and is looked after. As for this special case, we are currently looking into it.”
The patient, about 1.64 metres (5 foot 4 inches) tall and of thin build, was admitted to a male ward of the department of respiratory medicine in Kowloon Hospital for treatment of “open” tuberculosis – where tubercle bacilli are present in the excretions or secretions – and was under isolation watch.
He took off on January 2, with hospital security guards chasing after him, but in vain.
No one was injured. Three days later, the patient was still at large.
While open tuberculosis patients are generally considered infectious, the authority said the risk of transmission was relatively low in this case.
As the “patient had been hospitalised for treatment of tuberculosis for one month and that tuberculosis transmission often requires a long period of close contact, the risk is relatively low”, it said in an earlier statement.
The authority appealed to the public to contact police or call the hospital hotline at 3129 7111 if they knew the whereabouts of the patient.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Siu Lam Hospital in Tuen Mun said two more patients had been diagnosed with type 2 of the parainfluenza virus. The virus causes a respiratory infection with symptoms similar to those of a common cold.
The two men, 34 and 76, originally in a male ward for severe intellectual disability, were being treated under isolation and in a stable condition, he said.
Separately, the city’s public hospitals have continued to be inundated amid the winter influenza season. Some 6,200 people visited accident and emergency wards at the city’s public hospitals on Friday, according to authority figures.
The overall inpatient bed occupancy rate was 109 per cent, meaning temporary beds had to be laid out in corridors or between beds.
The most congested hospitals were Caritas Medical Centre, with 124 per cent occupancy rate, followed by Queen Elizabeth Hospital and United Christian Hospital, (both 119 per cent), and Tseung Kwan O Hospital (117 per cent).