Man from Dubai pleads guilty to misleading officials

A man the authorities linked to a small outbreak of a mutant strain of coronavirus in Hong Kong was remanded in custody on Monday after pleading guilty to several counts of knowingly giving false information to officials.

Syed Mohamed Rizvi, 30, who arrived from Dubai in March, was found to be infected after he had completed quarantine and went out into the city.

Kowloon City Court heard that he and his friend, Victoria Marie Alcaide Guadiz – who also admitted to the same charge – hid the fact that they attended a family gathering at Hing Wah (II) Estate on April 13, leading to the spread of the virus to four family members and five others.

Prosecutors also noted that over a thousand people were quarantined due to the scare, with all domestic helpers in the city later required to undergo mandatory testing.

In mitigation, the defence said the man hid his whereabouts because he didn’t want his family to be questioned by health officials.

He was also a tourist and unsure where he had been, the defence said.

As for his friend, the defence said she understands the huge impact the incident caused to society and expressed regret over her action.

She apologised to the public and hoped the court would hand down a non-custodial sentence.

Principal magistrate Ada Yim adjourned the case to July 5 for sentencing, and remanded the pair in custody, citing the seriousness of the case.