The Hong Kong government united in its Covid-19 anti-epidemic efforts, the city’s health chief has said. His remarks were made in response to a news recent news report, which cited sources saying there was disagreement within the administration over whether to scrap mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals in November.

Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau wrote that the team led by Chief Executive John Lee “always had the same goal when it comes to the overall anti-epidemic policy” in a blog post published on Sunday.

Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

According to a Bloomberg article published last Thursday, the government was looking into ending compulsory Covid-19 hotel quarantine in November. However, the international outlet reported that sources had said there was “push back on the plan.”

“Chief Executive John Lee is leaning toward scrapping hotel quarantine before the November events to signal Hong Kong is back in business, despite the objections of some in his administration, the people said,” the Bloomberg article read.

“Health Secretary Lo Chung-mau is among those who want to tighten restrictions as cases surge, one person added, on the hope that suppressing cases will lead to the reopening of the mainland border,” the article continued.

Without naming Bloomberg, Lo said “whether the sources were true seemed to be not important,” adding that a lot of local media outlets reported on the article “as if it was real.”

“These sort of articles made me think about Story of Yanxi Palace, a popular TV series in mainland China, which is about internal conflicts in the palace,” Lo wrote.

The Bloomberg article first published on September 1, 2022. Photo: Bloomberg, via screenshot.

“Whether the people and events actually took place in history is not important, after all it is a television drama. It is successful as long as the audience likes watching it and it becomes a hit.”

The health secretary said that the article not only harmed “the professionalism that should be held by journalists,” but might also impact the administration’s efforts in combating the pandemic.

Hong Kong has recently shorted the duration of mandatory hotel quarantine from seven days to three nights. Despite this, there has been no significant increase in the number of imported infections.

The city has seen a steady increase in the number of Covid-19 daily infections since late May. Hong Kong has reported 1,582,399 infections and 9,724 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic 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.