covid in the same tower block

by John Herbert

Tower block at Richland Gardens Estate ,Kowloon Bay,Hong Kong 13-12-2020
COVID Vertical spread at Richland Gardens Estate, Block 6, Kowloon Bay,

UPDATE: 14 December 2020

different building – new vertical cluster

A residential building called Kwai Tung House in the Tung Tau Estate, Nga Tsin Wai is reported to have nine cases in six different units, where most of the patients come from flat number 15 (on different floors). CHP said maybe a structural problem (meaning drainage system) Dr Yuen will investigate.

UPDATE 11 December 2020

Environmental samples were taken from Block 6 apartments, COVID19 positive results were discovered on the piping, floor drains, and exhaust fans

Logically, it appears that COVID19 entered through the floor drain trap into the space (bathroom?) exposing the residents to the COVID19 virus.

The positive results discovered on the exhaust fans is a new development. Perhaps the exhaust fan handling contaminated air with suspended droplets itself becomes contaminated, and potentially discharges contaminated air. And when the extract fan is switched off, its a contaminated surface, risking touch/contact transmission. Safety precautions are needed for handling and cleaning exhaust fans.

RTHK has now issued a news report with video (ENGLISH): https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1564832-20201211.htm

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan (11-12-2020) mentioned in passing that earlier investigations also found COVID19 in the fan system, although I don’t recall any announcement.

#exhaustfan #ventilation #HVAC


10 December 2020

Richland Gardens is a residential housing estate located in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong comprising 22 high rise tower blocks, a small outdoor public transport interchange, and a medium sized shopping centre.

RTHK and SCMP have reported seven covid19 cases so far, located on different floors of the same tower, all in Block 6, and all residing in flat D. In addition, one case was reported in Block 4, and one case in Block 18.

https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1564579-20201210.htm

CHP requires all residents in Richland Gardens Block 6, all floors, flat D, and Block 18, all floors , Flat E, must be tested, to me that indicates potentially more cases in Block 18 will emerge in the next few days.

After the horse has bolted, experts turned up to visit the Block 6 with microbiologist Dr Yuen, after the inspection Dr Yuen stated the drainage could be the source, because all the cases were in flat D, on different floors, but not every U trap could be seen (no access?)

RTHK managed to interview several Block 6 residents, who stated that the Block 6 drainage system was leaking!

Strange that BD, EPD or Dr Yuen didn’t mention leakage that in their post-inspection press conference. Dr Yuen did suggest pointed out that all residents in Block 6 should be quarantined, but the quarantine accommodation is already full, another no room at the inn story ✨✨✨

From bitter experience (e.g. SARS 2003) and other buildings, we know that sub-standard drainage systems can spread disease in the same high rise building, for Richland Gardens the early evidence tends to indicate that the cause is probably the poorly maintained drainage system (again). Has nobody heard that Prevention is better than the cure!

As shown in previously posted photos, it is easy to find located drainage systems that have not been properly maintained, but we have to wait for the next batch of people to be hospitalised before BD, EPD and HA pay a site visit.

Fingers crossed this cluster does not expand across the other 22 tower blocks in the estate.

#drainage #sewerage #conditionsurvey #buildings #kowloonbay #plumbing #buildingmanagement #plumbinginstallation #floordrains

Remote Temperature Measurement

if you need to measure the temperature of a live busbar, infrared thermography allows measuring the temperature remotely with contact. #infrared #thermography #thermal scan

Yellow Fire Hydrants

In Hong Kong you can see street fire hydrants painted in red and yellow colours, but do you know what does the yellow colour signify?

#firesafety #firehydrants #hongkong

Contingency Planning

Management and managers should have contingency plans ready, just in case. However, the on-going public health emergency, recently labelled by WHO as a COVID19 pandemic, has exposed that organisations and employers are not prepared for change or business interruption. Even when organisations had some broad ideas, it was never formalised in a plan and never tested, only after the idea was tested was it revealed the idea did not work in practice.

In addition to the general confusion, caused by poor communications, random individuals post opinions and “advice” on social media, would you believe that an electrician is sending COVID19 pandemic advice!

In the context of the built environment, I am raising this issue because building operators, organisations and employers fail to plan for events that can be reasonably foreseen, such as fire. Organizing periodic fire drills to safely escape from a building in the event of a fire should be routine, but sadly its not.

Yet, there are countless tragedies every year, fatalities caused by a range of issues, locked fire escape doors trapping people inside buildings being one common issue. I have often been called to witness standby generator tests, which would not start! Therefore, in the event of an emergency those safety systems have no power!

COVID19 and Legionnaires Disease

It’s generally accepted that the number of Legionnaires Disease infections is under-reported, I predicted that the heightened public health surveillance for COVID19 would reveal an increasing number of Legionnaires Disease infections because both COVID19 and Legionella cause pneumonia.

Here in Hong Kong, there is an example that might illustrate the point, case details provided by CHP are very limited [link] nevertheless it is interesting to consider the case of a male who was admitted to a hospital on 4 Feb. 2020 [NOTE: that is the same date when five Legionnaires Disease outbreak cases residing in the nearby housing estates were reported ] he was diagnosed as pneumonia, treated and released on 19th February 2020. He didn’t recover and was admitted again on 24th February 2020, but this time Legionnaires Disease was the diagnosis.

ABOVE: Ironic that fire sand bucket was used to hold open the fire/smoke stop door

When to plan?

To be perfectly blunt, its too late to try planning your escape from fire while trying to exit from a burning building, a decent manager will have a plan and considered difficult questions, or force a plan to be created, before a disaster strikes.

Novel Coronavirus and SARS

A novel coronavirus emerged from Wuhan City, China in December 2019 (2019-nCOV) and it is apparent that it shares many similarities with the 2003 SARS outbreak, the virus is transported inside water droplets (aerosols) from coughing and sneezing in the air and its also shed in fecal matter which in turn is aerosolized risking contamination of surfaces.

History ignored is destained to be repeated, the same engineering issues remain today creating panic in the Hong Kong community.

Back in 2003, Kelcroft’s John Herbert was one of the few engineers that dared to visit buildings during the SARS outbreak, to highlight buildings requiring urgent improvements. You might not worry about a disconnected vent pipe, until you understand that’s a transmission path for the virus into your home.

Like SARS, and Legionella (which is bacteria) the novel coronavirus can be transported in the air, it’s said to be airborne pathogen, protected inside a water droplet, and depending on the air temperature and humidity, it is thought to be able to carry its virus package over long distances, outside and inside home.

And with favourable environmental conditions, the virus remains viable for up to 5 days on hard surfaces. ( link to useful Singaporean government list of household disinfection products).

If you are interested, here is a link to download our free SARS 2003 report: http://www.kelcroft.com.hk/download/kelcroft-sars-report-may-2003.pdf

#sars #coronavirus #hongkong #2019-nCOV #airbourne #kelcroft #2003

Building Infrared Inspection

Building infrared inspection reveals hidden defects not visible to the human eye, the temperature image can locate the source of water ingress, damp, water damage, locate missing sections of thermal insulation missing, identify overheating switchgear, and much more.

#hongkong #thermography #infrared #building #inspection #condition survey

phone QR code

Pressurisation and IAQ

Positive building pressurisation and proper filtering of the outdoor air will be more important as testing reveals plastic in the air we breathe!

Plastic particles have been found in the air in the mountains but now in cities[1] . It may take years for the human studies and research but commonsense dictates plastic inside the human body, particularly in the lung should be minimised now.

1 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/27/revealed-microplastic-pollution-is-raining-down-on-city-dwellers

your life in the hands of the building owner by John A. Herbert

fire safety, fire survey, Hong Kong buildings

Considering Hong Kong’s maze of skyscrapers you might be surprised to learn that the Hong Kong fire department does not routinely check your building. After opening building fire safety, and your life, rests with the building owner. Once a year the building owner must engage a Registered Fire Services Contractor to check the fire fighting equipment, that is the theory.

Continue reading

Leaking Ducts by John A. Herbert

leaking air ducts, air conditioning, waste energy

Air Conditioning is expensive and it is the highest portion of your energy, so after buying the central chiller plant, and the cost of energy to provide chilled water to air conditioning units, your precious and expensive conditioned air leaks out, through poor maintenance, wasting energy, and also causing condensation. It is the same as throwing the hundred dollar bills of the roof every day. In energy auditing, as in life, details matter.

Every fire damper in Hong Kong must be inspected annually, in air conditioned ductwork after a few years the access panel (shown in the photo above) is no longer air tight, allowing leakage of expensive cold air, and energy losses. Alone, each energy loss is not significant, across the Hong Kong millions are lost every year.

About the Author

John A. Herbert is a veteran engineer with more than 30 years construction experience, educated in the United Kingdom he has been working across Asia for the last two decades engaged by international and local companies. He is a Hong Kong Registered Energy Assessor (REA), and BEAM Professional.

Green but not the colour for cooling towers by John A. Herbert

The world is catching on, the Green Building concept, where Green equates with Good, but not for cooling towers. Cooling towers need to be audited every year in Hong Kong, here is an example of a very poor Hong Kong cooling tower, with algae covering the entire floor of the cooling tower cell1 and cell2 … Legionella risk: severe

Kelcroft conducts the annual EMSD cooling tower audits in accordance with EMSD code for annual audit requirements, call the experts today.

About the Author

John A. Herbert is a veteran professional with more than 30 years solid construction experience, educated in the United Kingdom he has been working across Asia for the last two decades, serving international, and local companies. And involved with the development of Hong Kong Green Building for more than a decade. He is a Hong Kong Registered Energy Assessor (REA), and a BEAM Professional.