Residents of a public housing estate at the centre of Hong Kong’s latest Covid-19 outbreak heckled Chief Executive Carrie Lam and two other top government officials on Sunday during their visit to the estate. Two of the estate’s 16 residential buildings are currently under a five-day lockdown.

Lam, along with Chief Secretary John Lee and Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan, visited Kwai Chung Estate, where Yat Kwai House, a residential block in the estate, was put under the city’s first-ever five-day lockdown last Friday, with residents unable to leave and subject to daily Covid-19 tests.

(Second to left) Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Chief Secretary John Lee, Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan inspecting Kwai Chung Estate on January 23, 2021. Photo: GovHK.

A second five-day lockdown was imposed on Kwai Chung Estate’s Ying Kwai House last Saturday. Four other buildings in the estate were also put under overnight lockdowns for residents to be tested.

As the chief executive and the two officials inspected the area, residents were heard shouting from their flats, saying “go back, this estate is very dangerous,” “when will you die,” and “you go into a five-day lockdown.”

The incident was a rare display of public dissent since the imposition of the security law in 2020.

Lam, Lee and Chan left the estate after about 15 minutes and did not take any questions from reporters.

In a statement published on Sunday evening, the chief executive thanked residents of Kwai Chung Estate for their cooperation and expressed hope that “they understand the necessity of the operation.”

“The highly transmissible Omicron variant, ravaging all over the world, has caused a dramatic change to the local epidemic situation. While the Government is doing its best to deal with the virus, the co-operation and support of members of the public has been key to Hong Kong’s success in fighting the epidemic over the past two years,” Lam said in the press release.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam inspecting Kwai Chung Estate on January 23, 2022. Photo: GovHK.

“I appeal to the residents of Kwai Chung Estate who are subject to the ‘restriction-testing declaration’ and compulsory testing notice to undergo testing in an orderly manner in the coming few days to curb the virus.”

Residents’ complaints

Authorities have identified more than 170 confirmed or preliminary positive Covid-19 cases at Kwai Chung Estate as of Sunday.

The government said that the chief executive was briefed on the arrangements of the lockdown operation, including the delivery of food and daily necessities.

However, according to InMedia, residents have complained about the arrangements. A resident of Yat Kwai building said that three of her family members tested positive but were not sent to hospital until 24 hours later.

Household rubbish began accumulating in hallways as all cleaners in Kwai Chung Estate were sent to Penny’s Bay. Photo: Telegram.

Photos from Telegram groups also showed piles of household rubbish had begun to accumulate in hallways as all of the estate’s cleaners had been sent to Penny’s Bay.

Hong Kong has reported 13,286 infections and 213 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic just over two years ago.

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Candice Chau

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.