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Security chief interrogated over police masks haul

2020-02-19 HKT 18:54
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  • Security chief interrogated over police masks haul
Frances Sit reports
The opposition camp in the legislature on Wednesday grilled senior officials over how the SAR government is allocating protective gear and masks in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak, complaining that the police have been given far more resources than other departments.

At a Legco meeting to discuss the outbreak, several pro-democracy lawmakers said they noted that officers are equipped with better protective gear than medical workers.

They said officers wore high-level protective gear when they handled the evacuation of a Tsing Yi apartment block due to the virus, and also when they helped out at the Kai Tak terminal where a cruise ship was quarantined over a coronavirus scare.

Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok said he could not understand why police officers believed they had such a high risk of catching Covid-19, and in the meantime, public healthcare workers are "crying out for help" due to a lack of protective gear.

But Security Secretary John Lee said such criticism isn't fair and the police only have enough surgical masks to last them a week, with each officer given one per day.

"Every day, over 20,000 police officers are working at the frontline on high-risk tasks...sending people to hospital, dealing with cases in which corpses are found. At quarantine centres, policemen have to be stationed there to safeguard the security." Lee told Legco.

"Now, we ask the police to do so much and yet if we don't give them the PPE [protective personal equipment ] that they need, it would not be fair," he added.

Another opposition legislator, Tanya Chan, added that all government departments should make a list of how much protective gear they have, and pass any they don't need to medical workers.

Chan said this could help ease any public mistrust in the allocation of supplies to the various government departments.