Transiting mainland workers bring malaria headache as Covid cases pass 5,000 mark

A 52-year-old man who flew in from Guinea, Africa, has died from malaria in quarantine, while four others are in intensive care units, as health authorities warned against an increasing trend of imported malaria cases.

He was, sources said, among 30 mainland construction workers who flew in between July 1 and Monday, with 21 of them arriving from Guinea, who were quarantined at Silka Seaview Hotel in Yau Ma Tei, before going north.

The 52-year-old man passed away during quarantine and post-mortem results revealed that he carried the malaria parasite.

The other 29 have been sent to nearby Kwong Wah Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung. Ten of them have been discharged, while four are in ICU and 15 stable.

The Centre for Health Protection is still investigating and the workers' companions will undergo blood tests.

The sources said the Hospital Authority has requested the SAR administration requisition the drugs from other places.

Infectious disease specialist Joseph Tsang Kay-yan quelled fears of malaria transmission. "Malaria is not transmitted from human to human. It can only be transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito - a genus that does not exist in Hong Kong."

The outbreak came as Hong Kong saw three new Covid-related deaths, taking the fifth-wave toll to 9,314, and 5,020 infections - the first time cases have exceeded 5,000 in over four months.

The Centre for Health Protection's head of communicable disease branch, Chuang Shuk-kwan, said the new cases were made up of 4,773 local infections and 247 imported cases.

"The infection count has yet to peak," she said, adding, however, that social-distancing measures will not be tightened yet.

Of the new infections, 367 were reported by 286 schools - 300 students and 67 teaching staff.

Four elderly care and two disabled homes saw nine residents infected and at least 45 close contacts are undergoing quarantine.

Also testing positive are Environmental and Ecology Bureau political assistant Patrick Lee Wing-ka, his Financial Services and the Treasury counterpart Julian Ip Chun-lim, Privacy Commissioner Ada Chung Lai-ling and Director of Fire Services Andy Yeung Yan-kin.

A cluster at TWGHs Wong Tai Sin Hospital was also suspected after a 94-year-old woman tested positive and died following a family visit. Another three patients staying in the same ward as her also tested positive.

The chief manager for quality and standards, Lau Ka-hin, said the authority is investigating as the woman's family members did not take off their masks during the visit.