RTHK's English-language current affairs programme that takes "The Pulse" of Hong Kong ... and the world around it.
As the number of coronavirus cases and deaths is rising in the mainland, on Thursday the central government removed two top officials from their posts in Hubei and Wuhan alongside many more minor officials who had been dismissed earlier. Control in the province will now be exercised by former Shanghai mayor Ying Yong, a close ally of President Xi Jinping, and Wang Zhonglin, Jinan city’s former party secretary. President Xi last week also despatched Party heavyweight Chen Yixin, chief of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, to Wuhan to deal with the outbreak.
The Hong Kong government says that currently more than 2,000 Hong Kong people remain in Hubei Province. The government has revealed no plan to help them get back. This week, ten of them were reported to have been infected with the virus. Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases in Hong Kong continues to grow. In the early hours of Tuesday this week, more than 30 households in a Tsing Yi apartment block were evacuated due to the coronavirus. With me to talk about how the coronavirus might have been spread through bathroom pipes in the estate is Helena Wong.
The number of people in Hong Kong who have contracted the coronavirus remains in double digits, many of them were infected by family members.
This is why there is concern among Hong Kong’s 400,000 domestic helpers, who are required by law to live with their employers, often in small spaces.
Even in mainland China, public anger has risen, and serious questions are being asked, on the effectiveness of political leadership and the lack of transparency in tackling the Covid-19 breakout. The fallout began last week when President Xi Jinping removed two provincial officials in Hubei and Wuhan and otherwise reprimanded or removed a few hundred more minor ones. This week, the state news agency reported that the government is also discussing postponing the annual parliamentary meetings in early March. The Party, well aware that continued economic growth provides much of its legitimacy for ruling, has tightened internet control and increasingly controlled media narratives on the spread of the disease. There’ve been increased clampdowns on virtual private networks, in recent weeks. The foreign press has been told to stay out of Hubei, and on Wednesday, three Wall Street Journal reporters were expelled over a headline that read: “China is the real sick man of Asia”. With us to talk about the effectiveness or otherwise of these strategies are Derek Yuen, lecturer at the Department of Politics and Public Administration of the University of Hong Kong and Chris Yeung, political commentator and chief writer at CitizenNews.
The Diamond Princess cruise ship has been quarantined in Yokohama since 4th February. The Covid-19 virus spread rapidly on the ship, with more than 600 out of 3,600 passengers now having tested positive for it. Two, a Japanese man and woman in their eighties, have died. Also on board are 364 Hongkongers, 55 of whom are infected. The government has finally arranged chartered flights to bring home some of those who have not tested positive. On Thursday morning, the first batch of 106 passengers returned and are now quarantined in an estate in Fo Tan. But Hong Kong’s quarantine measures have been the target of some criticism.