Hong Kong urgently needs more facilities to isolate people suspected of having novel coronavirus pneumonia, especially the Hong Kong residents now stranded in Japan and Central China’s Hubei province, Executive Councilor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung said.
Holiday camps and public housing estates are therefore needed for this important purpose, and he called for people’s understanding and accommodation.
People should not be selfish by saying isolation facilities should not exist ‘in my backyard’. Still, it is unlawful for people to block roads and commit arson to obstruct the setup of isolation facilities
Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, executive councilor
Hong Kong has sent a health team to Yokohama, Japan, to evacuate 350 Hong Kong people aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship. He said arrangements will be more complicated in Hubei, where about 2,200 Hong Kong residents are stranded.
Except for 50 confirmed patients who will not be allowed to leave Japan, the cruise ship passengers who pass a medical check can board charter flights arranged by the Hong Kong government to return to Hong Kong on Thursday. All will then be quarantined for 14 days.
“We have learned the lesson that isolation is very important to minimize social contacts and infection. ... It is necessary for them to get isolated for 14 days upon their return to Hong Kong,” Li told China Daily.
An unoccupied public housing estate in Fo Tan has been chosen as an isolation camp, but that plan has met with strong opposition from some local residents.
Li said the residents need not worry. “They are not infected patients. The nearby residents need not panic because the virus is transmitted from human to human at close distance, while these people are required to stay inside the camp and cannot go out.
“People should not be selfish by saying isolation facilities should not exist ‘in my backyard’. Still, it is unlawful for people to block roads and commit arson to obstruct the setup of isolation facilities. There are political parties who fish in troubled waters and fabricate stories that police have taken a huge quantity of face masks,” he said.
Meanwhile, Li said he is very disappointed that some Hospital Authority employees were absent from work for a week recently to demand the government shut down all cross-boundary control points.
“It is a lack of professionalism. They should not run away from their duty, which is to take care of the patients,” Li said. “Whatever demands they have, they should discuss them with the HA and not stay away from work. Although they were the minority, they were the black sheep of the HA because they not only deserted the patients but also increased the workload of those healthcare workers who remained loyal to their jobs.
“I have trained so many doctors and I am glad that my (medical) students who graduated in those days had not joined the industrial action. Instead, doctors who work in the private sector volunteered to help the HA during the difficult times,” he said.
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