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Thursday, Mar 23, 2023

‘Somebody had to be the bad guy,’ health chief laments over success and failure of three year Covid fight

‘Somebody had to be the bad guy,’ health chief laments over success and failure of three year Covid fight

With unmasked Hong Kong scrapping its last Covid restriction, the city’s health chief described the government’s anti-pandemic measurements over the three years as being success mixed with failure, noting that all the policy was issued deliberately despite he and the Chief Executive holding different views and sometimes even playing opposing roles.
During an interview Thursday, Secretary of Health Lo Chung-mau said all the decisions made by the government during the three-year fight against Covid had undergone thorough discussion, and the government determined a clear direction without going backward.

"We - me and Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu - are just like parents in a family, there is a good one, and somebody needs to be the bad one," Lo said, claiming his insistence on stricter anti-pandemic measurement may sometimes have been against the city’s top leader’s opinions.

His statement came after a report in September last year quoted sources as saying that Lee intended to lift the mandatory hotel quarantine for new arrivals to Hong Kong in November but was opposed by the health secretary.

In addition, Lo said that Hong Kong society suffered a failure in the third year of the fight against Covid-19, as opposed to the successful management of the pandemic in the first two years.

"We are the victim of our own success," he said, "the minor numbers of infections we had in 2020 and 2021 led us to underestimate the severity of the pandemic, and many people were not vaccinated, which caused the fifth wave of the disease outbreak in 2022. We failed because we once were successful."

According to the government’s statistics, the number of people who tested positive for Covid-19 and died between January 1, 2020, to January 29, 2023, reached 13,333 before the Hong Kong government from January 30 this year stopped publishing the infection figures reported from people who did rapid Covid tests.

"I will not look back to the past, just like a historian, to criticize the merits or failure," Lo said, "I will look forward, and the government will also review the policies and continue to keep improving our medical measurements to benefit the public."

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