Key officials in the government and the Hospital Authority (HA) tried their best to control last year’s spread of SARS, Chief Secretary Donald Tsang told the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Friday.
Key officials in the government and the Hospital Authority (HA) tried their best to control last year’s spread of SARS, Chief Secretary Donald Tsang told the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Friday.He called on legislators and the community to be rational and objective in judging officials’ performance.”Even if there were shortcomings, there is no evidence that any official was guilty of dereliction of duty, did not give their best or had a credibility problem,” he said.He made the remark at a motion debate on the LegCo Select Committee’s SARS report, which probed the handling of the health crisis by the government and HA officials.Tsang said many of the problems were rapidly put right by key health officials, while others were compensated for by the extraordinary hard work of people at all levels of the system. “It was due to such efforts that SARS was eventually brought under control in Hong Kong,” he said.Responding to Democratic Party Chairman Yeung Sum’s amendment motion to condemn the former director of health Dr Margaret Chan, Tsang said Chan had contributed much to improve Hong Kong’s public health during her 30 years’ of public service.As Chan has left the government, there is nothing the administration can do to take follow-up action, he added.But the LegCo still passed the motion 33-0, with one abstention, condemning her for her handling of the epidemic. Legislators from across the board concurred that she should bear the biggest responsibility for the outbreak of SARS.The LegCo report found that Chan not only failed to show enough alertness to the epidemic in Guangdong Province at the early stage, but also did not include SARS in the quarantine and disease prevention ordinance after it was named by the World Health Organization.Talking about Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food E.K. Yeoh, who quit on Wednesday, Tsang praised him for pushing forward measures to improve the public health system a year after SARS was put under control.”His decision to quit shows not only he is brave to shoulder responsibility but also shows he wants society to calm down as quickly as possible. Leong Che-hung resigned as HA chairman in the same spirit,” Tsang said.He also pledged to seek supplementary funding for the SARS fund to assist families of deceased persons and convalescing patients if the money was not sufficient.(Source: China Health News, July 2004)