Press Releases in Hong Kong

Home affairs chief in quarantine after banquet, CE ‘disappointed’

Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui Ying-wai speaks at the Chiming Ceremony to Commemorate the Centenary of the Former Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower Bell on Dec 9, 2021. (PHOTO/HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

HONG KONG – Hong Kong Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui Ying-wai has been sent to the quarantine center after attending a private banquet where one guest preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19 afterward.

Nine other government officials also showed up at the party on Jan 3 which was attended by more than 100 guests, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in a press briefing Thursday.

Eight other officials only dropped by briefly or have left before the suspected case arrived at 9:30 pm and therefore were not considered as close contacts. They included Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu, ICAC Commissioner Simon Peh and Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui

Tsui was sent to the government’s Penny’s Bay quarantine center as he was considered a close contact of the suspected case after his extended attendance at the gathering.

Eight other officials only dropped by briefly or have left before the suspected case arrived at 9:30 pm and therefore were not considered as close contacts. They included Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu Chak-yee, ICAC Commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu and Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui Ching-yu. 

READ MORE: HK sees 33 new virus infections, over 30 preliminary positive cases

The eight were able to show proof with data from the COVID-19 contact tracing app LeaveHomeSafe, Octopus cards or their chauffeurs, Lam said.

The remaining official, Director of Immigration Au Ka-wang, had yet to prove that he left before the suspected patient arrived at the venue. Lam said she would leave the investigation to the Centre for Health Protection.

She said she was “very disappointed” that government officials still attended a mass gathering despite the fact that the Omicron variant had entered the community.

Lam reminded the officials that they were expected to set a good example and to follow social-distancing rules, especially now that Hong Kong is facing a serious threat of a fresh round of COVID-19 outbreaks.

Lam stressed that government officials should be responsible for their own actions and she did not rule out further follow-up actions.

The government will investigate whether anyone had violated COVID-19 rules during the banquet, Lam added. The Central Government Offices at Tamar will undergo thorough cleaning and sanitization.

Several lawmakers, including Rock Chen Chung-nin, Duncan Chiu Tat-kun, and Benson Luk Hon-man, were reported to have been among those present at the gathering. Chiu was also reported to have been confined to a quarantine center to await COVID-19 test results. Luk is awaiting test results with his family and has asked his office members to work from home until further notice. 

ALSO READ: Banks order Hong Kong office changes as COVID-19 cases rise

The LegCo Secretariat said that those lawmakers who attended the gathering, and their assistants, will not return to the LegCo building until after they have provided negative test results and will temporarily work on a floor in Citic Tower until then.  Disinfection of public areas and the members’ floors at LegCo will be carried out, the Secretariat confirmed.

In light of the surge in infections, Hong Kong Baptist University announced on Thursday that, as of Monday, visitors to the campus will need to have completed their COVID-19 vaccines at least two weeks prior to the visit, or to provide a negative COVID-19 test result from within the past seven days. Those who stay on campus for less than four hours will be exempted from this new arrangement.