Hong Kong third wave: Beijing’s liaison office blasts critics of mainland offer of help for putting politics above public health

Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong has said those suggesting the city does not need help from mainland China in combating the Covid-19 pandemic are putting political considerations above public health.
Hong Kong is struggling to control a third wave of the pandemic that emerged earlier this month, with daily infections topping 100 for the past five days.
The city’s pro-Beijing political groups have met with senior officials from the liaison office, asking them to send mainland medical personnel to Hong Kong, or to mobilise mainland laboratories to help with testing.
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But Dr Gabriel Choi Kin, newly elected president of the Hong Kong Medical Association, on Thursday warned of the difficulties such a plan might present.
“All the patients’ history and prescriptions are typed into the computerised system in English in our public hospitals. If we have a bunch of mainland doctors and nurses, who speak Mandarin and write in simplified Chinese, mixing with us, that is bound to create a certain degree of chaos,” he said.
In a statement on Sunday night, a spokesman for the liaison office said it was “shocking” that critics could question assistance proposals.
“When the central government and mainland compatriots care about Hong Kong’s situation, and Hong Kong residents also hope that the central government can help … there’s a small minority in the city that don’t care about the vast majority’s safety,” he said.
“Some people doubt, groundlessly, that ‘such means would contravene local laws and professional guidelines’, or that ‘mainland medical professionals cannot communicate in English’. (These critics) are full of arrogance and prejudice against their mainland counterparts.”
The spokesman also said some people suggested that Hong Kong did not need the mainland’s help because its medical resources and manpower were sufficient.
“They ignored the fact that the city’s medical system and personnel are under immense pressure … They are clearly deceiving themselves and others, out of some ulterior motives,” he added.
“Some people even suggested that ‘mainland medical teams would send Hong Kong people’s gene samples to the mainland’ … This is making up rumours and accusations.”
He said that “creating political differences and protecting their own interests” were more important for critics than Hongkongers’ lives. He added that since the pandemic situation had worsened in the city, the central government had promised to help in areas ranging from sample testing to the construction of temporary hospitals.
“The central government will continue to pay attention to the situation in Hong Kong, and maintain close communication with the Hong Kong government,” he said.
“Based on the need of the special administrative region, we will provide all necessary support and assistance. We hope that under the leadership of the chief executive and the SAR government, the whole society can be united in fighting the pandemic, and win this battle against it.”
The liaison office’s statement came after mainland media reacted strongly to the Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff and the Hong Kong Medical Association president Dr Gabriel Choi Kin’s opposition to the idea of sending Mandarin-speaking medical staff to Hong Kong to help with the Covid-19 third wave.
State-owned tabloid Global Times ran a commentary on Saturday questioning whether Hong Kong medical staff were rejecting the help from the mainland out of vested interests. It also said that the language barrier Choi had cited was just an excuse.
“The mainland medical staff sent to Hong Kong would have a higher professional level and more experience than those in Hong Kong. It’s not difficult to find medical staff who speak English,” the commentary wrote.
“The current issue is not that the mainland medical staff are going to grab Hong Kong jobs, but that they provide assistance in an emergency situation, similar to putting out a fire.”
“If medical staff refuse to treat patients whose political beliefs are different from their own, …
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