More than 100 residents evacuated from a public housing estate in Hong Kong where coronavirus cases have been confirmed returned home on Saturday after tests revealed they were not infected.
Four people from two households in Hong Mei House in Tsing Yi were earlier diagnosed with the illness, raising fears of a community outbreak caused by disconnected toilet pipes and leading authorities to move residents out en masse.
All of those evacuated overnight on Tuesday from the A07 units in the housing block on the Cheung Hong Estate were allowed home after spending several days in quarantine.
Dozens got off a bus arranged by the government outside their homes soon after midday on Saturday. Members and supporters from Hong Kong’s pro-establishment camp were seen giving out masks and disinfectant to those disembarking.
It also emerged on Friday following inspections that nine of the 34 units in the block had disconnected vent pipes.
Alteration of toilet piping is suspected as the cause of transmission between flats. A spokesman for the Housing Department said late on Friday that the vent pipes were immediately reconnected or sealed.
Warning of repercussions for residents, he urged public tenants not to alter drainage systems and vent pipes without the Housing Department’s approval, saying doing so might fall foul of the Buildings Ordinance and tenancy agreement.
On the plight of the evacuated residents, the Centre for Health Protection said all 101 samples tested negative for the coronavirus.
“As such, the residents concerned may leave quarantine centres [on Saturday]. A shuttle bus service will be provided to help them return home,” a spokesman said on Friday night.
Five residents with coronavirus symptoms sent to hospital for isolation and treatment also tested negative, the department added.
The evacuation came after a 62-year-old woman was identified as the second infected resident within the same block. Her son and daughter-in-law, who she lived with, were later found to be infected with the virus.
The trio had joined a family dinner in North Point attended by 29 people, six of whom were struck down with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Health officials are still investigating whether the source of the infection was related to the dinner or living at Hong Mei House.
The first case confirmed in the block on January 30 involved a 75-year-old man.
As of Friday night, there were 56 confirmed cases of infection in Hong Kong. One person has died and another was discharged.
This article Coronavirus: Hongkongers evacuated from infected Tsing Yi housing block return home first appeared on South China Morning Post