Caspar Tsui to be quarantined after attending banquet

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Thursday that at least 10 senior government officials were at a banquet on Monday night that was attended by someone who has since tested preliminary positive for Covid-19.

Lam said one of them, Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui, has been identified as a close contact and would be sent to the Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre for isolation.

The Development Bureau also confirmed later on Thursday night that its political assistant, Allen Fung, was identified as a close contact and needs to undergo quarantine.

Lam said she was “highly disappointed” that so many officials had attended a large-scale gathering amid the pandemic, saying they have to bear responsibility for their behaviour.

“I am in particular disappointed with the home affairs secretary, Caspar Tsui,” she said.

The CE added that eight other top officials – including financial services chief Christopher Hui, police commissioner Raymond Siu and ICAC head Simon Peh – attended the event, but they have not been identified as close contacts so far because they had left the venue before the infected patient arrived.

A 10th official, Director of Immigration Au Ka-wang, was also at the banquet, and Lam said more investigation is needed to determine if he should be considered a close contact.

“Principal officials or other senior officials of the SAR government have to perform their respective duties in observing the rules promulgated by the Food and Health Bureau, and also watch out their own behaviour,” she said.

“They should not be engaged in activities which will carry risks and create more work for the CHP (Centre for Health Protection) and make things more complicated.

“I would advise that in looking at these colleagues, maybe a distinction should be drawn between one who spent the whole night on the occasion and hence put himself in a highly risky situation that requires him to be quarantined, and others who just dropped by to say hello or to congratulate the host and then left. So a distinction has to be drawn clearly in terms of whether they are sufficiently alert or they are responsible for their behaviour.”

Lam added that officials are continuing their investigations to find out if more government staff had attended the event.

She said the case would have “some impact” on government operations but other officials at the Home Affairs Bureau would pick up the slack.

While the chief executive refused to divulge details of the gathering, citing privacy concerns, sources said the banquet was held to celebrate the birthday of local National People’s Congress deputy Witman Hung.

Earlier, Business and Professionals Alliance lawmaker Benson Luk said he attended the event, but he does not know the infected person, nor had he interacted with the individual.

He added that he and his family have undergone testing.

IT sector lawmaker Duncan Chiu also said he was at the party with Luk as well as DAB legislator Rock Chen.

Chiu said he did not speak to the infected person, and has since taken a Covid test.

Chen, meanwhile, said he had been in contact with the infected person for less than 15 seconds, and has informed health officials about it.

The Legco Secretariat, for its part, said it’s been notified of the case and has made arrangements for a thorough disinfection of the Legco complex, as well as lawmakers’ offices at Citic Tower.
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Last updated: 2022-01-06 HKT 21:29