I am delighted that you and your sons like my song “Beat the Virus”, which I wrote to boost the morale of Hong Kongers in the pandemic. As your mentor, I applaud your wise parenting, spending time with your children amidst your busy schedule as a front line doctor; and I appreciate your sense of humour to laugh along with your colleagues watching the video together.
Indeed, stressful doctors and nurses in the pandemic have to keep mentally healthy and happy, in the face of daily challenges. We need to relax often when we face excessive expectations, demands and frustrations. While no health workers were infected in the first and second waves, many doctors and nurses were infected in the fourth wave. A doctor was even admitted to the ICU. In the third and fourth waves, more than 150 citizens died, as compared to 8 deaths in the first and second waves.
It is really high time for the Government to classify Covid-19 as an “occupational disease” for those who got infected through their work.
It is worrying that despite restrictive social distancing measures since November, the number of daily confirmed cases failed to return to single digits, with many cases of unknown origin.
Hong Kongers must continue to be vigilant in masking, social distancing, staying home, avoiding social gatherings, and washing hands with soap water or disinfecting them with alcohol sanitizers for 20 seconds after touching objects or before touching face, eyes, nose and mouth.
However, I observe that many people don’t wear masks properly, failing to cover the nostrils; many touch their masks frequently and do not sanitize their hands after touching the polluted masks; some pull the masks down to the neck when they drink, eat or smoke, thus contaminating the inside of the masks by the droplets on the exposed neck and when they pull the masks up again, the contaminated inside of the mask would touch the nose and mouth.
I know your husband John is a smoker. As smokers are more vulnerable to Covid-19 infection, he is endangered especially if he, like many others who smoke in the streets, pull their masks down; and the pedestrians around him would also be at risk.
These loopholes could account for the cases with unknown origin.
To end this pandemic nightmare, mass vaccination is now hailed as light at the end of the tunnel; and in many countries, vaccination has already begun. The Hong Kong Medical Association has liaison with medical associations around the world. The President of the Israel Medical Association told me that Israel has already vaccinated 2 million, that is 22% of its 9.3 million population.
Our Government has ordered 7.5 million doses each of the three chosen types of Covid 19 vaccines : Sinovac, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford; and it is announced that vaccination will begin around the Lunar New Year, in Community centers, Government and private clinics, and elderly homes.
For mass vaccination to succeed, the Government must try its best to educate the public about the need for vaccination; and to fend off misconceptions and false messages, especially the fallacies wrapped in pseudoscience, denouncing the vaccines.
The choice of vaccines , should of course be based on published peer reviewed scientific research data , rather than emotional or political considerations.
For herd immunity to develop, we should vaccinate at least 80% of the population, or over 2/3 of the population within this year, i.e. 5 million of our 7.5 million people, with 2 injections for each person, amounting to 28,000 injections per day.
So this is a daunting task which requires resolute leadership, with seamless inter-departmental cooperation and collaboration of different bureaus. The Government needs well-planned user-friendly logistics. Transparency builds confidence. People need “informed choices”, with pre-vaccination consent, and 15-30 minutes’ rest time after vaccination. Resuscitation equipment should also be available at each vaccination centre, although severe allergic reaction is extremely rare. Israel has only one reported case of anaphylaxis in the 2 million vaccinees, and the person had recovered without complications.
As a doctor, you know vaccines take weeks to develop immunity. As the elderly were more susceptible to Covid-19 infection, all elderly citizens and all staff working in the elderly homes should be vaccinated as early as possible.
Scientific researches have found Vitamin D supplement useful in the prevention and management of Covid-19 infection; and in the reduction of mortality of Covid-19 patients, though there is still ongoing debate, pending randomized controlled trials. As citizens are advised to stay home due to Covid-19 pandemic, many Asians with coloured skin cannot produce sufficient Vitamin D in the winter. Vitamin D is not only vital for our bones but also important for our immune system. 4000 iu of Vitamin D per day has been advised for adults to maintain a serum level of 50 nmol/litre of 25 OH Vit D. Overweight people are suggested to take 1.5 times more the usual dosage.
As the elderly are prone to Vitamin D deficiency, I urge the Government to provide Vitamin D for all elderly over 65 years of age for the potential protective benefit. Daily Vitamin D fortifications could be given to residents in the elderly homes. In fact, mandatory Vitamin D fortification of milk products has already been implemented in Canada and Sweden.
As incentives for the mass vaccination programme, the Government could consider giving out Vitamin D supplement for all Covid-19 vaccinees when they leave the venues, together with educational materials on the vital role of Vitamin D in our immune system, and a vaccination certificate or code, good for job applications, travelling, reopening of restaurants, gyms, theatres and businesses alike.
Vaccination is not 100% protection. We need to continue proper masking, social distancing, hand hygiene, and daily Vitamin D fortification.
Jane, keep up your morale with good mood while working hard with dignity and passion in the frontline, especially during this difficult time when doctors are often misunderstood and unfortunately, even demonized in Hong Kong.
Thank you for encouraging me to stand for the Medical Council election last autumn. With your support I was elected again. The Medical Council, made up of both doctors and non-medical members representing the benefits of patients, plays the important role of upholding the standard of Hong Kong’s doctors, safeguarding the health of all citizens and serving the interests of all people in Hong Kong.
In closing, I pray that God will bless your family and all Hong Kongers with good physical, mental and spiritual health in the New Year!
Yours sincerely, Uncle Alvin
Dear Hong Kongers,
I handed in my resignation letter last week. This marks the end of my work in the Legislative Council.
10 years ago, when I decided to leave the ICAC to return to work for the Democratic Party, during an interview with the Hong Kong Economic Journal, I said, “When we look back at the events that happened in the past hundred years in Chinese history, we should be grateful that dissidents like us are still able to speak our views freely and continue to make a living, and not be subject to exile, imprisonment and decapitation.” Looking back, the only thing that has not happened yet is decapitation.
To be frank, I have never underestimated the Communist Party’s cruelty. I was only 12 years old when the Party used machine guns and tanks to massacre the students in Beijing in order to preserve their power. When I decided to rejoin the Democratic Party, I was well prepared for a gradually increasing level of suppression by the regime; I just never expected the pace to skyrocket the way it did this past year.
Under an authoritarian regime, it is considered normal for politicians to face imprisonment. I have no regrets: this is my vocation and responsibility. I have this responsibility because of my love for Hong Kong and because of my stubbornness. I firmly believe times will change and that one day, full democracy will triumphantly take root in Hong Kong.
The night is always darkest before the dawn. We must persevere despite the challenges. There is no doubt that the authoritarian regime will further crack down on journalists, academics, members of the judiciary, those in the medical profession, social workers, civil servants, pro-democracy activists and supporters, etc. I believe that the new wave of suppression will consist of the following:
1. It will include District Councillors and public officers in the existing oath provisions so that they can politically screen candidates and disqualify those they deem “disloyal” to the CCP;
2. Markedly restrict mass gatherings and demonstrations even after the pandemic is over, citing public order and safety concerns; organizers will be charged with serious offences;
3. Cite the Emergency Regulations Ordinance as an excuse to maintain social stability, execute seizures of outspoken media outlets, and block websites to deter public donations in support of the movement.
4. Intervene in different professional sectors: government and quasi-governmental bodies will be established to issue licenses as a way to control professionals’ “political stance” and override professionalism;
5. Recruit Administrative Officers (AO) based on political allegiance; fully review the political backgrounds of candidates so that AOs can become party members;
6. Government officials and pro-establishment figures will initiate defamation lawsuits frequently, so that pro-democracy figures will face paying hefty sums and will be under constant psychological pressure;
7. Continuously create a climate of fear causing a chilling effect: members of civil society will think that they have no choice but to self-censor themselves; the regime encourages reporting on others, causing a breakdown of mutual trust; an increasing number of people will be forced to leave the city and they will be replaced by large numbers of Mainlanders.
How can Hong Kongers not feel sad and depressed when Hong Kong’s well treasured core values and system are crumbling so rapidly? However, the world is changing: international and domestic political environments are constantly evolving; the internal and external pressure faced by the regime will only increase further in the future. I trust I do not have to elaborate much on what will happen if that continues to be the case. Who can go against history’s course?
Furthermore, Hong Kong is still the Hong Kong we deeply love, we have to come together, unite and march on. We, especially those of us within the democratic camp, must put aside our differences, as we are all protesters under the suppression of the authoritarian regime. We must gather as much force as we can to oppose the regime’s suppression, but also stay alert and flexible in response to the government’s persecution. I will continue to stand firm, fight, and work together with the public in the local community, in cyberspace, and on the streets to guard the truth of the events that happened in the Yuen Long attack, and counteract all the untruthful allegations and spurious statements of the government and the pro-establishment camp.
Under the current climate, some friends felt they were left with no choice but to leave Hong Kong. I fully understand their reasoning and difficulties in making such decisions. However, I respectfully ask all of you not to forget our roots. Help one another out as much as possible: a little support goes a long way. Hold on to the passion for change as long as you can: we, namely all those working for democracy and justice, will rise again. Apart from staying healthy, Hong Kongers should also think outside of the box when it comes to participating in democratic movements: we should all strive to outlive the authoritarian regime. Youngsters should keep equipping themselves, because the future is yours. We should all remember the words of coach Anzai, from the well-loved comic Slam Dunk: “If you give up, the game will be over.”
Lastly, I would like to thank the 39,327 New Territories East voters who voted for me back in 2016. My slogan when I ran for LegCo was “Anti Bid-rigging, Anti-Corruption.” Looking back, I seem to have only achieved half of my mission. The triads no longer monopolize building renovation works, the market is now back on track and there are no building renovation works with sky-high prices anymore. Unfortunately, corruption seems to have gotten worse, and those in power stay in power at the expense of citizens. I also want to thank my team, my colleagues, volunteers and pro-democracy supporters from the bottom of my heart for weathering the storm with me all these years. It is my honour to have fought this battle with you all.
Add oil Hong Kongers!
Lam Cheuk Ting
Hong Kongers, the fight for democracy is far from over. Despite the many difficulties ahead, I will continue to march towards and work for a better future for Hong Kong. Please take care. With you, I look forward to the day when we will celebrate our victory at dawn.