Hong Kong manhunt underway for escaped COVID-19 patient

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HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong authorities are searching for a COVID-19 positive patient who escaped one of the city's largest hospitals while undergoing treatment, according to health officials.

The 63-year old man, identified as patient 7379, was admitted to the isolation ward of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on December 14 after it was confirmed he had COVID-19.

However, the man escaped the hospital ward via a stairwell on Friday and could not be recaptured. A statement from the hospital said the patient escaped wearing a jacket over hospital clothes.

"Staff spotted that the man was making his way to run away for the ward … staff chased him but the efforts were in vain,” said a hospital spokesman.

It is the first known case of an escape from hospital of a COVID-19 patient.

Hong Kong has recorded 7970 COVID-19 cases, according to a government website.

Two patients, aged 84 and 85, died in the past two days, a hospital authority statement issued on Friday said.

(Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)