Coronavirus doesn't spare the rich

March 16, 2020 12:36
Paramedics carry a patient in a stretcher on to an ambulance in Hong Kong on Saturday amid the coronavirus outbreak. Covid-19 has hit people from different strata of society. Photo: Reuters

We've seen politicians, movie stars and sports players getting hit by the coronavirus. Now we can add another category to the victims' list -- corporate board directors.

Over the weekend, we learnt that Lau Chuk Kin, a director at Lion Rock Group (1127.HK) and Left Field Printing Group (1540.HK), had tested positive for Covid-19, becoming another patient in Hong Kong from the global outbreak.

According to regulatory filings, the 67-year-old printing industry veteran -- who had earned the nickname Uncle Kin -- was confirmed with the virus last Friday, and is currently in stable condition.

Lau, whose business links include the job classifieds publication Recruit, is apparently Case No. 134 in Hong Kong, as per the health department's Centre for Health Protection (CHP).

The business leader was said to have flown to London on February 27 and met with an Italian during the trip. He flew back on Hong Kong on Cathay flight CX 250, traveling first class, on March 8 and came to work to his North Point office the following day before he sought help from Ruttonjee Hospital on March 11.

Following the virus confirmation in Lau, Lion Rock Group said its headquarters in North Point has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. The company is working closely with the CHP to ensure that the staff and business partners who have had contact with Lau are advised accordingly, it said.

Left Field Printing, which is owned 68 percent by Lau, made a similar announcement on Sunday. The firm added that it doesn't expect any material disruption to the group’s operation, as the bulk of its business is in Australia.

Lau is not the only rich person among the Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong. Earlier, Jockey Club member Yvonne Chow Hau-yee was confirmed with the virus on Feb. 25, becoming Case No. 85 in the city.

The 60-year old lady, who lives in a building at the Swiss Towers residential estate in Tai Hang, had attended a wedding function of her daughter on February 22. Later, Chow's pet dog was also detected with a low level of covid-19 infection.

Unlike in many recent cases, Chow didn't travel anywhere overseas this year, so one can only speculate as to how she contracted the coronavirus.

Whatever the facts may be, the Lau and Chow cases surely qualify as evidence that even well-off people are not immune to the epidemic.

A quick scrutiny of all the infection cases would suggest that people living in the eastern parts of Hong Kong have been more affected than those living on the other side.

That is because the districts that saw group infections were Kwun Tong (where cases arose after a hot pot meal family gathering) and North Point (the cluster of cases linked to a Buddhist temple).

That said, we need to bear in mind that the odds of infection are even, and that the virus knows no boundaries or borders or class distinctions. 

Risk can't be measured on the basis of geographic or social strata; everyone has to stay on guard and protect oneself.

-- Contact us at [email protected]


EJ Insight writer