Japan cruise case explained

March 10, 2020

(To watch the full press briefing with sign language interpretation, click here.)


A patient with special medical circumstances who was aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan has again tested positive for COVID-19, the Centre for Health Protection announced.


The centre’s Communicable Disease Branch Head Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan made the statement at a press briefing this afternoon.


She said the patient, who has an underlying illness with weak immunity, had initially tested positive for the virus in Japan on February 18. After she recovered, the patient tested negative for the virus twice before returning to Hong Kong on March 7.


However, she tested positive for the virus again today.


Responding to a question about why the patient was not quarantined upon arriving in Hong Kong, Dr Chuang said people who have recovered from the disease will undergo two polymerase chain reaction tests, as recommended by the World Health Organization.


“So we have no reason to put them under quarantine. But for this person, she has special medical circumstances. Although she had two negative results, I understand the doctors were worried whether there will be intermittent or prolonged shedding of the virus.


“That’s why after she came back from Japan, she had a follow-up in Queen Mary Hospital and as a precaution, the doctor took a swab from her to check if she was carrying the virus.


“So it turned out to be positive. This is not unexpected given her medical history, but this is an exceptional case, we believe, so it’s not a usual finding in other healthy recovered adults.”


For information and health advice on COVID-19, visit the Government's dedicated webpage.

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