Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Friday that Hong Kong's current economic downturn is worse than during the Sars outbreak of 2003, as she warned that anti-government protesters have no qualms about destroying the city.
As well as a number of her officials, Lam was flanked by business figures as she gave her dire warning at the latest of the administration's daily press briefings set up in response to the city's political turmoil.
She described the economic slump as being like a "tsunami hitting Hong Kong", and put the blame on the Sino-US trade war and the continuing anti-government protests.
"A small minority of people do not mind destroying Hong Kong's economy. They have no stake in the society which so many people have helped to build and that's why they resort to all this violence and obstruction, causing huge damage to the economy and to the daily life of the people," she said.
Lam warned that while the protests have already brought economic problems and transport disruption, sooner or later there could also be "some medical and health issues as a result of this political crisis".
She announced that in light of the current situation, the Executive Council will resume its weekly meetings from the coming Tuesday.
"As far as political solution is concerned, I don't think we should just sort of make concessions just to silence the violent protesters. We should do what is right for Hong Kong. And at this moment, what is right for Hong Kong ... is to stop the violence and to say no to the chaotic situation that Hong Kong has experienced in the last few weeks so we can move on", she said.
Financial Secretary Paul Chan had already warned that the protests were affecting the economy, a claim rejected by protesters who noted at their own press conference earlier this week that the slowdown had begun even before the first big extradition bill protest on June 9.