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More Hong Kong politicians sent to quarantine after birthday party

Four Hong Kong lawmakers and its immigration czar joined another top official at a quarantine camp as a coronavirus scare widened.

More Hong Kong politicians sent to quarantine after birthday party
Hong Kong authorities tightened Covid-19 restrictions this week after a small outbreak of the Omicron variant was traced to a Cathay Pacific flight crew - Copyright AFP Bertha WANG
Hong Kong authorities tightened Covid-19 restrictions this week after a small outbreak of the Omicron variant was traced to a Cathay Pacific flight crew - Copyright AFP Bertha WANG

Four Hong Kong lawmakers and its immigration czar joined another top official at a quarantine camp as a coronavirus scare widened Friday, ensnaring the territory’s political elite after they attended a large birthday party.

The latest five entries into Hong Kong’s 21-day quarantine facilities have left city authorities red-faced as they install a new “patriots only” legislature, which is scheduled to hold its first meeting next Wednesday.

They are joining Home Affairs Secretary Caspar Tsui, who was sent to the camp Thursday after being deemed a close contact with a potential carrier.

By Friday, he was joined by four other lawmakers and immigration chief Au Ka-wang — all of whom had attended a birthday party Monday at a Spanish tapas restaurant.

“I offer my sincere apology to all people of Hong Kong. I have reflected on this incident and shall be more vigilant in future,” Au said in a statement Friday.

He added he was at the restaurant for a short time and “left immediately after congratulating my friend without having a meal sitting down”.

Officials separately confirmed the lawmakers sent to the quarantine facility will miss the start of the legislative term.

“I feel I acted carelessly and I rather regret it,” affected lawmaker Duncan Chiu told local radio Friday morning. “This has set a bad example.”

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said she was “very disappointed” in the large gathering of officials for Monday’s party.

It was held to celebrate the birthday of Witman Hung, a member of China’s top lawmaking body, according to local media.

While the party was legal under rules at the time, health officials had advised people three days earlier to avoid big gatherings.

The government upped Covid restrictions this week, after a small outbreak of the Omicron variant in the city was traced to a Cathay Pacific flight crew.

Multiple local outlets ran a photo showing Hung singing into a microphone with his arm around the shoulder of a smiling woman, both unmasked.

Hung, who apologised late Thursday, had also been sent to quarantine, local media said.

The party was also attended by nine senior government officials — including the city’s police chief and anti-corruption agency head — but they were not ordered to quarantine as they had left the venue before the suspected Covid carrier arrived.

President of the Legislative Council Andrew Leung said he hoped next week’s meeting can continue as planned.

A new group of 90 city lawmakers were selected last month under new rules imposed by Beijing, which vetted all candidates for “patriotism”.

Only 20 were directly elected amid record low turnout, with the rest selected by reliably pro-Beijing committees.

AFP
Written By

With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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