A group of Central and Western district councillors and residents filed a petition to the Department of Health on Tuesday in opposition to the government’s plan to set up a coronavirus treatment clinic in the neighbourhood without consulting the public.

5,000 signatures were collected online from residents opposed to the decision to turn the Kennedy Town Jockey Club General Out-Patient Clinic into one of the 18 designated clinics. According to the Hospital Authority, the clinics would be responsible for handling mild suspected cases of the new SARS-like virus in order to alleviate pressure on Accident and Emergency Departments.

Central and Western district councillors petition against designated clinic
Central and Western district councillors hold a demonstration outside the Department of Health on February 11. Photo: inmediahk.net.

District councillor Cherry Wong said patients with fever-like symptoms would have to go to the clinic on Victoria Road by public transport, such as on buses or the MTR. They would pass by a crowded, residential area, so the location might not be ideal for the prevention of community outbreak: “We are against this not because we are selfish, but we have sound reasons for our objection,” she said.

Wong urged the government to be transparent about the clinic’s operations, such as whether it is equipped with adequate protective supplies, and how patients who test positive for the novel virus will be transferred to hospitals.

Kennedy Town Jockey Club General Out-Patient Clinic
Kennedy Town Jockey Club General Out-Patient Clinic. File photo: inmediahk.net.

The virus was first detected in Wuhan, China. More than 43,000 people have been infected with over 1,000 deaths globally, according to official statistics.

Another district councillor, Fergus Leung, also slammed the government for not attending district council meetings to explain their plan. He said that, without sufficient information, it is difficult for councillors and residents to back the government’s decision.

“We’re angry that the government is not doing their utmost to cut the virus at its source. We’re even angrier at the fact that the government never communicated with residents or the district council since they came up with the plan,” Leung said.

Correction: 14.45: A previous version of this article wrongly stated the number of petition signatories as 50,000. We regret the error.

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.