Several lawmakers who were urged to complete their quarantine period at home after attending an official’s birthday party at which at least one guest was later confirmed to be infected with Covid-19, attended the Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting on Wednesday before taking the last in a compulsory series of Covid-19 tests.

Last week, LegCo president Andrew Leung “strongly urged” a total of 16 lawmakers to remain at home and not attend any meetings until they had completed their final mandatory Covid-19 test on Saturday. The lawmakers, who attended Witman Hung’s birthday bash on January 3, were allowed to quarantine at home instead of at Penny’s Bay after another guest was found to be a false positive.

New People's Party
(From left) Eunice Yung, Lai Tung-kwok, Regina Ip, Judy Chan, and Dominic Lee attending the Legislative Council meeting on January 19, 2022. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Four other lawmakers who attended the party and were deemed close contacts of a Covid-19 patient completed their compulsory 14-day quarantine at Penny’s Bay on Monday and are undergoing an additional seven days of self-monitoring at home.

At least five of the 16 lawmakers, including former security chief Lai Tung-kwok, Eunice Yung and Judy Chan from the New People’s Party, Nixie Lam from the DAB, and ophthalmologist Dennis Lam, attended the LegCo meeting on Wednesday, three days before taking their last required Covid-19 test.

Both Tung and Dennis Lam said they had sought expert medical advice before attending the meeting. Tung refused to say which expert he sought advice from, while Lam said he had contacted Gabriel Leung, dean of medicine at the University of Hong Kong.

The ophthalmologist said that he had decided to attend the meeting because he was “eager to return,” but he had cancelled all surgical procedures and appointments at his clinic and would not return to LegCo until after he had taken his final test.

Lam also said that Leung had held an “internal discussion” within LegCo and told lawmakers to seek expert advice.

“From a medical perspective, I’m not even a close contact [of the confirmed case], I had no contact, the risk is actually relatively low. But we’re now in critical times, that’s why I tried my best to fulfil my duties at home,“ said Lam.

Dennis Lam
Hong Kong lawmaker Dennis Lam attending the Legislative Council meeting on January 19, 2022. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

“But after five negative tests and asking for expert advice, who said the risks were low and told me to take precautionary measures, I’m wearing a KN94 mask today… There is no such thing as 100 per cent safe anywhere in the world, after some consideration I decided to come back here and attend the meeting.”

Ongoing investigation

Several top government officials also attended Hung’s birthday party, including Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui and Director of Immigration Au Ka-wang. The pair were among those sent home from Penny’s Bay on Monday.

The government has launched an investigation into the officials, with preliminary information reported to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department suggesting that anti-epidemic regulations might have been violated at the party.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that she will explain to the public as soon as the results of the investigation are released, and that the inquiry will not be “left unresolved.

Hong Kong reported 16 cases on Wednesday, of which seven were locally-transmitted infections. The city has recorded 13,082 cases and 213 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic around two years ago.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.