Coronavirus: about 130 riot police in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon region ordered into quarantine
Nearly all of West Kowloon’s elite Police Tactical Unit taken off front line after two colleagues infected with coronavirus. One of the diagnosed was a sergeant involved in the handling of a protest outside Prince Edward MTR on Tuesday
Nearly all members of a regional anti-riot squad in Hong Kong will be placed under quarantine for two weeks after an officer involved in mass arrests at the site of an anti-government protest earlier this week was confirmed to be infected on Saturday.
About 130 of the elite team tackling disorder in the West Kowloon region will be out of action and their jobs covered by officers from other districts.
A 46-year-old sergeant from the Police Tactical Unit (PTU) of West Kowloon region was confirmed as infected on Saturday.
The sergeant was deployed to handle a protest at Prince Edward railway station on Tuesday night, when supporters gathered to mark seven months since clashes there between officers and anti-government protesters.
Another constable from the unit was previously diagnosed after going to a bar in Tsim Sha Tsui that has been linked with a cluster of cases.
According to a police insider, the duo shared facilities in the PTU base in Shek Kip Mei.
After investigation, the Department of Health decided to send around 130 male officers of the same unit to quarantine camps as soon as possible, fearing they could have used the same facilities as the infected over recent days.
“Headquarters is now working out the list of male officers with the department,” an internal memo read.
The source said female officers from the same unit would not be affected.
“We are reforming the anti-riot police from other five regions so as to cover the empty spots,” the source said.
The force had sanitised the married quarters in Kowloon East, where the sergeant lived, as well as the police stations he had visited.
“Regarding testing for Covid-19, all officers are highly recommended to receive a test at hospital, government clinic or private doctor at their nearby home,” the memo read.
A police source later clarified that the advice was directed at all officers of that anti-riot squad and not the entire force of 31,000 officers.
Police arrested 54 people over Tuesday’s protest at the MTR interchange for offences including illegal assembly, public disorder, possession of instrument fit for unlawful purpose.
Some had gathered to leave floral tributes to mark the controversial clearance operation seven months earlier, during anti-government protests that broke out last summer over the now-withdrawn extradition bill.
Others marked the anniversary by hurling abuse at police officers, who warned that those present were at an illegal assembly before they moved in for arrests.