Policewoman who refused to wear mask when seeking medical attention was diagnosed with new coronavirus, sending two medical staff with symptoms to quarantine.
A policewoman, who was suspected to be infected during her time in a bar, coughed and spread virus in the hospital ward without wearing a mask before tested positive for the new coronavirus. She refused to wear face mask even after the advice of medical staff, making a medical staff sick and sending another to quarantine. Hospital Authority (HA) expressed concern, but refused to condemn. The police merely expressed their deep apology, without mentioning if any disciplinary action would be taken. HA Employees Alliance (HAEA) condemned the selfish behaviour of the policewoman, “Nobody understands why she has the privilege.”Councillors believed that the incident reflected the low quality of police officers, they were also disappointed to HA being “scared of the police” to condemn the policewoman.
The involved police officer Cheng, 22, belongs to the Patrol Sub Unit in the Sham Shui Po Division. On 20th March, Cheng visited the All Night Long bar in Tsim Sha Tsui with a colleague. On the 24th, she had an afternoon tea with three colleagues after a shooting drill in the morning. After she returned to Sham Shui Po Police Station for her duty, she felt unwell and sought medical attention in Caritas Medical Centre. She was initially sent to ordinary ward, subsequently tested positive for the new coronavirus on the 26th.
HA Chief Manager (Patient Safety and Risk Management), Dr Sara Ho pointed out anonymously that there was a coronavirus patient who had not been wearing face mask initially in the ordinary ward, that “she was coughing occasionally”. Having seen such situation, two phlebotomists immediately advised the patient to wear face mask, but discovered that she had not been wearing mask until getting her blood drawn, intravenous injection and electrocardiography completed. Yesterday, the two phlebotomists were listed as close contacts, one had to seek medical attention at the Accident & Emergency (A&E) Department, while the other was sent to quarantine for 14 days.
Dr. Ho also mentioned that the two phlebotomists were wearing surgical masks and gloves at that time, but they had contact with the patient for over 15 minutes, and the patient was not wearing face mask. Thus, they were listed as close contacts. The two subsequently had contact with other patients, wearing face masks and alerted with hand hygiene, so it was believed that the possibility of spreading the virus was low.
After being inquired by several media if the mentioned patient was Cheng, as well as whether (HA) would condemn or issued complaint to the Police Force, Dr Ho eventually confirmed the female patient’s identity, she also mentioned that HA was concerned about the incident, but refused to express condemnation, “After all, (she) is a patient, (we) tend to advise and appeal to patients for cooperation.”. About how should medical staff deal with patients without face masks, Dr. Ho said that only a minority of patients who did not cooperate. She also mentioned that the security would be notified if a patient kept on refusing to wear face mask, and management would be noticed if the situation continued, but she did not mentioned if the police would be called. Yesterday, when asked about the incident, Secretary for Security Mr John Lee Ka-chiu merely said the female police officer’s action was “certainly inappropriate”
Dr. Ho pointed out on the press conference that the female police officer stayed in ordinary ward for half a day, and the staff “were wearing appropriate protective equipment”. There are medical staff from Caritas Medical Centre rebutted that the policewoman stayed in ordinary ward for at least 10 hours, and that most ordinary ward staff merely had surgical masks without wearing other equipment. The hospital has not arranged the related medical staff for coronavirus tests.
Afterwards, the police issued a statement on its Facebook account, indicating that the officer was lack of epidemic prevention awareness, the police contacted her immediately to understand the situation and instructed her to necessarily follow the instruction from medical staff. The police also expressed deep apology for the incident to affect medical staff and service, and to cause social unrest.
HAEA chairlady HAEA chair Winnie Yu Wai-ming mentioned that the HA activated “Emergency Response Level” early in January, anyone entering public hospital and clinic area must wear face mask. HAEA condemned the policewoman being unwilling to wear face mask, “Nobody understands why she has the privilege.”. Yu also quoted Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s word early on the press conference condemning those violating quarantine issue: “Are you worthy of the medical staff(‘s help)?”. She also questioned that if the female officer’s action caused a medical staff to be infected, “are you worthy of the medical staff who are fighting the virus in this adversity?”. She believed that as a public official, such selfish act put the police to shame.
Civic Party District Councillor Kwok Ka-ki thought that the incident was unbelievable, “a normal person will not do that, this is a lack of conscience and ethics”. He also pointed out that the officer should have learnt to follow rules after receiving professional training from police college, “PK Tang (Commissioner of Police) always says (Hong Kong Police) are the finest police in asia, look in the mirror, look at what quality you have”, and the police is culpable if there is any medical staff getting infected subsequently. He was disappointed about the HA not condemning the female officer, “basically there is no law in place in Hong Kong, it is as if public organizations serve the police, they are afraid of the police. Such situation should only be happening in the Third World Cities, with such huge police power.”