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Poll postponement a timely move to protect HK people: former WHO chief

By Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun | HK EDITION | Updated: 2020-08-01 19:49
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Former Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Margaret Chan speaks during a news conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept 12, 2014. [Photo/IC]

As the Emeritus Director-General of the World Health Organisation and a member of the Hong Kong community, I strongly support the Hong Kong SAR government's timely and decisive decision to postpone the Legislative Council election on Sept 6, 2020 to protect the health and well-being of the Hong Kong people. Indeed, more than 60 countries worldwide have postponed elections to reduce the risk of infection by the novel coronavirus which is raging around the world.

The third wave of infection by COVID-19 in Hong Kong is very worrying! The very rapid rate of increase in daily cases, especially in the densely populated environment of Hong Kong, the long incubation period and asymptomatic infection are also unpredictable, making the control of this infection very difficult. Our healthcare system and the healthcare workers are already overwhelmed and we need to protect them as well. If the current trend of infection continues, our health systems could collapse, and this is the last thing we want to see. I praise the Hong Kong SAR government in taking swift steps to request assistance from the Chinese mainland to increase the local health system capacities in quick detection by testing, and in increasing isolation beds facilities. Solidarity and collaboration are precisely what we need to fight back the virus.

In addition, one cannot stress enough the very important role and discipline of the general public in the use of masks, social distancing and personal hygiene to minimize the risk of infection. Any wait-and-see mentality, any attempt to downplay the epidemic situation and delayed action will bring disastrous consequences.

The pandemic is not over yet! The novel coronavirus is the most "cunning" virus I have ever seen in my 40 years in global health. It certainly has the ability to make a strong comeback and cause havoc anytime, anywhere including in Hong Kong. Therefore, strong vigilance and resolute efforts are crucial to stop the virus making a comeback.

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