Speech at Council meeting- Motion debate on the 2021 Policy Address

Motion debate on the 2021 Policy Address

MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese): Thank you, Deputy President. The global pandemic has persisted for more than two years. The high transmissibility of Omicron and Delta has led to resurgence of the epidemic in Europe and the United States. Hong Kong is deeply impacted by the epidemic too. In the early stage of the fifth wave of the epidemic, the 7-day average for local cases was actually more stable when compared to that in the previous two waves, and the public believed that resumption of cross-border travel could be expected soon. However, with the two variants of the virus hitting at the same time, the epidemic spread at an unprecedented rate with exponential growth.

Despite the sharp rise in the number of confirmed cases in Hong Kong at present, as long as the Government, in accordance with the important instruction of President XI Jinping, assumes the main responsibility to stabilize the epidemic situation early as the overriding mission at present, and mobilizes all available manpower and resources, holding a resolute attitude to overcome the epidemic together with the public, it can definitely lead the people through this disaster.

In fact, playing their own part in preventing and fighting the epidemic, members of the public have been quite cooperative in wearing masks and keeping social distance. I hope that the vaccination rates, especially those of the elderly and children, can be raised expeditiously at the same time. In this regard, both the Hospital Authority and schools have to take one more step, since the elderly, usually having chronical illnesses, may have doubts about vaccination. Although hospitals have already made special arrangements, the crux is the attending doctors’ advice. I believe it will be much more effective if all the attending doctors can encourage the elderly to get vaccinated in the light of the actual situation. Similarly, schools have a strong influence on students and children. Schools should properly guide the parents and ease their worries about vaccination for their children.

As regards such important areas as detection, tracing, isolation and treatment, the Government should continue to make improvement.

In respect of testing, I have been to Shenzhen to attend the meeting convened by Director XIA Baolong, and after returning to Hong Kong, I had to undergo the nucleic acid test six times, two in a community centre and four at a mobile testing station. Hence, I have considerable experience in this. At present, the community testing centres are mostly located in relatively confined venues, such as sports centres. Telling from my experience, the centres were crowded. If someone in the queue kept coughing, even though everyone was wearing a mask, the whole crowd would immediately feel anxious. Currently, outdoor football pitches, volleyball courts and basketball courts are temporarily closed. The Government should consider using more of these open spaces as community testing centres, and the vacated sports centres for isolation, so as to reduce the risk of cross-infection when people are queuing up.

In respect of tracing, although vaccination records are under a real-name system which can make up for the lack of a tracing function of “LeaveHomeSafe”, there are still many loopholes. For example, if someone uses an anonymous “PPS card” or another person’s vaccination record, the authorities will be unable to trace him. As for the testing notification issued by “LeaveHomeSafe”, if someone deletes the app and then downloads it again, such notification will not appear again. These loopholes in tracing must be plugged as soon as possible.

With regard to isolation, the isolation sites and hospitals are close to saturation. Although the Government has just announced the utilization of thousands of public housing units, hotel rooms and university hostel places to meet the urgent need, it should continue to, through the Government Property Agency, identify suitable facilities such as vacant school premises in each district for setting up easily accessible isolation sites, so that members of the public do not have to travel a long distance to the isolation sites, thus incurring additional risk of infection.

In respect of treatment, it has been reported by the media that the use of Chinese medicine has been effective in treating patients with COVID-19 on the Mainland. Just now Mr Holden CHOW mentioned this in detail, and I have also noticed that Honourable colleagues from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong have suggested the use of Chinese medicine in the treatment of COVID-19. Among my friends, there are also cases who have recovered after taking Chinese medicine. I suggest that the Government should consider adopting a multi-pronged approach to speed up the discharge of confirmed patients so that the healthcare system will not bear excessive pressure.

I am grateful that we have a large group of frontline workers fighting the virus arduously day and night, and the Central Authorities have always responded to our requests for support. However, the Government should also consider deploying support from civil servants and call on the community groups to organize volunteers to join in the anti-epidemic work, so as to mobilize wider efforts in the community to fight the epidemic.

The fifth wave of the epidemic is in fact a big test for Hong Kong’s anti-epidemic work. Nevertheless, compared to Wuhan, which had absolutely no knowledge of the epidemic two years ago, Hong Kong has its testing capability and experience in fighting the virus with a considerable vaccination rate as the basis. The people of Wuhan could return to normal life in 76 days. We should be confident that Hong Kong can win this battle as well. There is no shortcut to “dynamic zero infection”. Now the Government has already set up several task forces with Mainland experts. I hope it can learn from the successful experience of the Mainland expeditiously and uphold its belief, so as to cut the virus transmission chains with the force of a thunderbolt, such that the epidemic will disappear from Hong Kong as soon as possible.

Deputy President, I will express my other views on the Policy Address in the other sessions. I so submit.