Details of two more gatherings attended by senior government officials – one of them aboard a boat – have emerged, days after top political figures were ordered to undergo Covid-19 quarantine after attending a birthday party for a Chinese official.

The Fire Services Department confirmed with HKFP that a lunch event took place at a clubhouse in Tsim Sha Tsui Fire Station last Tuesday.

Joseph Leung. File photo: GovHK.

Among the attendees were the Director of Fire Services Joseph Leung, Executive Council member Ip Kwok-him and Winnie Ho, the Director of Architectural Services, according to Ming Pao.

Newly elected lawmaker Kitson Yang and two Home Affairs Department directors, Paul Wong and Alice Choi, were also at the event, the outlet said.

In a response to HKFP, the fire department said that the event was held in “strict accordance” with anti-epidemic measures and that attendees wore masks when they were not eating.

It did not respond to a question about how many attended the event, but local media outlets said that there were about 100 guests.

HKFP has reached out to the other departments and Yang’s office for comment.

Boat party

Separately, a boat party took place last Thursday to celebrate the promotion of government officer Michael Fong to director of the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD), according to a picture showing a group holding up a celebratory banner.

The image was shared in a Facebook group on Friday, prompting investigations by local media.

Photo: 公務員secrets via Facebook

In response an HKFP enquiry, the department said that the boat rental was paid for by the attendees and that Fong – who is still listed as the head of the CEDD’s Sustainable Lantau Office on the department website – was unaware of the arrangements beforehand. Twenty-two people attended the yacht gathering, the department said in its emailed reply.

“There was a photo-taking session at [the CEDD’s] Tung Chung New Town Extension Community Liaison Centre,” the department wrote, referring to the image that circulated online. “Others who work there joined the photo-taking. Everybody was wearing masks the whole time.”

‘Lawmakers should be responsible’

Reports about the gatherings emerged as around 180 people who attended a birthday party – among them lawmakers and top government officials – were sent into mandatory quarantine at Penny’s Bay last week after at least one guest was confirmed to be infected with the Covid-19 variant.

A photo taken at the party showed over 40 people attending at the same time. Photo: Channel C.

They had attended a birthday party for Witman Hung, Hong Kong’s delegate to China’s top legislature, the National People’s Congress, last Monday. After one of the Covid-19 patients who attended the event was found to be a false positive, dozens were released – but not before one of those classified close contacts, pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho, went on a tirade during a Saturday night Facebook Live session from Penny’s Bay to complain about the government’s delay in arranging transport out of the camp.

After his video ended, Ho posted to his Facebook page just before midnight: “[The government] made me spend half my day waiting for nothing. In terms of transport, [the government] said they can only send me to Tsing Yi MTR station. If that’s the case, they should have told me earlier. I’d get my driver to pick me up!”

Junius Ho. Photo: Junius Ho via Facebook.

Immigration chief Au Ka-wang, Home Affairs Secretary Caspar Tsui, and Secretary for Financial Services and Political Assistant to Secretary for Development Allen Fung also went to the party. All three remain in quarantine at Penny’s Bay as they are considered close contacts of the confirmed patient.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Thursday that she was “very disappointed” that government officials attended a gathering of more than 100 despite the fact that the Omicron variant had entered the community. Lawmakers “should be responsible,” she said.

5 more local cases

Hong Kong detected 24 more Covid-19 cases on Monday. Five were local infections, among which four were considered “import-related” while one had no known source of transmission.

The patient with an unlinked infection is a part-time salesperson at the Sogo department store in Causeway Bay, Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection said during an afternoon press briefing.

Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection. Photo: HK Gov screenshot.

Her father, who has Covid-19 symptoms including a cough and a fever, tested preliminary positive.

Among the four linked local cases, one is a 66-year-old woman living in Mei Sun Building in Tai Po. Two people living in the block had earlier tested positive. Yuen Kwok-yung, who is advising the government on its pandemic response, suspected vertical transmission in the building following an inspection on Sunday.

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Hillary Leung

Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.