Response to media report on cases of HKCL staff contracting atypical pneumonia
In response to a news report today (April 30) about cases of Hong Kong Central Library (HKCL) staff contracting atypical pneumonia, a spokesman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) said that the HKCL has been following the internal guidelines and reporting mechanism of the Government in reporting the cases to the central government and the Department.
"The advice of the Department of Health (DH) is also sought on the necessary follow-up actions, including whether there is the need to suspend library services. The library management also seeks the DH's assistance in helping section heads to provide briefing to all staff members about the details of the reported cases and to decide whether staff who have social contact with the infected staff should be quarantined and put under observation," the spokesman said.
Between March 26 and April 20, a total of four staff of the HKCL were confirmed to have contracted atypical pneumonia. Details are as follows:
1. The first case was an Assistant Librarian who works in the User Education Hall on the Ground Floor of the HKCL. She was confirmed to have contracted atypical pneumonia on March 26. In accordance with the advice of DH, the Library suspended its services from 7:20 p.m. that evening and on March 27 to conduct thorough cleansing and disinfection for the whole library building. Library services resumed on March 28.
The 18 co-workers of the infected staff had been given seven-day off and all of them resumed duties on April 3.
2. The second case, confirmed on March 29, was a Librarian Assistant who works in the Central Reference Library on 8/F of the HKCL. Since she had been on leave during the Library's thorough cleansing and disinfection on March 26 and 27, the DH advised that no staff had to be quarantined and the Library could remain open.
3. The third infected staff is a Librarian responsible for the publicity of library activities. She was confirmed to have contracted atypical pneumonia on April 11. Prior to that, she was off duty from April 5 to 6 and applied for sick leave between April 7 and 10, during which she came back for a short meeting with two colleagues on April 8 morning. The two staff who contacted her that morning took leave from April 10 to 14. The DH advised that no staff was required to take further leave and the Library could remain open.
4. The fourth case, a Library Assistant who works in the Circulation Section, was confirmed on April 20. She has not been working since April 14. Her main duty in the week prior to April 14 had been to handle accounting work which had no contact with the public. The DH advised that no staff need to be quarantined and the Library could remain open.
As at today, the first three of the four infected staff have already recovered and discharged from hospital. They are expected to resume duty in due course. As for the fourth case, the staff is now receiving follow-up treatment at a convalescent home.
The LCSD attaches paramount importance to the hygienic standards of public libraries. In addition to conducting daily regular cleansing and disinfection, all public installations including the main entrance, door handles, book drops, security locks and buttons, elevators, escalators and all furniture are disinfected at least five times a day. All headsets in the multimedia rooms are regularly disinfected and disposable headphone covers have been used. The Library has also requested the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department to increase the fresh air supply and air flow and to conduct thorough inspection of all air filters and air handling units of the library building. All library staff are provided with face masks and hand gloves.
At the same time, public notices have been put up at prominent locations to urge readers with upper respiratory infection symptoms to wear face masks inside the library or to refrain from using library facilities. Readers will be provided with face masks upon requests.
End/Wednesday, April 30, 2003