09:49 GMT24 February 2020
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    A 59-year-old Hong Kong preacher diagnosed with COVID-19, the 2019 novel coronavirus that originated in China’s Hubei Province, held a Sunday service for over 100 individuals before realizing he’d contracted the virus.

    The preacher, who works for the Jubilant Grace Methodist Church, was confirmed to be infected with the virus on Tuesday, just a couple of days after holding weekend service for 140 people, attending a religious class with 10 others and visiting a local school.

    According to a report by the Asia Times, the preacher began experiencing symptoms like coughing, fever and shortness of breath on February 2. He participated in Sunday’s activities while wearing a mask. The preacher attended a religious class with 10 worshippers at the Methodist Church Hong Kong Wesley College on Sunday. 

    A few days later, on February 5, he visited the Methodist Church Hong Kong Wesley College for a second time; however, during this visit, the preacher did not have any contact with staff members or students, as classes had been canceled.

    In a statement on the church’s Facebook page, Reverend Chiu Sau Kuen, director of the Jubilant Grace Methodist Church, indicated that that the preacher was diagnosed with the virus at the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Hong Kong after he sought aid at the facility’s emergency room. He is reportedly in critical condition. She also said that all in-person church activities would be canceled for the month of February and that church members could attend Sunday worship virtually.

    According to the Asia Times, Nam Ching She, principal of the Methodist Church Hong Kong Wesley College, said that the preacher visited the school campus while classes were suspended, and only one teacher and two staff members were on duty at the time. Nam also said that no staff members or students would need to be quarantined and that the school would be shut down and sterilized for a week.

    The latest data by the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science shows that 50 people have been infected with the coronavirus in Hong Kong. The preacher’s wife and daughter and a domestic worker living with him are all currently under quarantine, although they have not shown any symptoms of the virus. 

    Across the globe, more than 45,000 people have been infected with the virus, with more than 1,000 having died as a result.

    A group of British scientists at Imperial College London on Tuesday announced that they have started testing a vaccine on mice for COVID-19. In addition, multiple pharmaceutical companies, including Moderna Inc., Gilead Sciences Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, have announced that they plan to develop treatments for the coronavirus, Reuters reported last week. 

    The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also announced last Tuesday that it was partnering with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., an American biotechnology company, to develop a treatment for the disease. 

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