Police violated safety guidances and wasted precious protective clothings by casually undressing them

The police officers were taken photos of them wearing the highest class of protective clothings among other public servants when they were ‘assisting’ the evacuation of residents in Hong Mei House, Tsing Yi. Besides, they were found to be undressing their protective clothings that were possibly contaminated together, which seemed to be violating the guidances from the Centre for Health Protection and protective clothings manufacturers. A registered nurse under public hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department  pointed out that the way how police officers incorrectly undressing the protective clothings would only increase the risk of community infection, and criticized that they were wasting such precious medical resources.

At Hong Mei House of Cheung Hong Estate in Tsing Yi, two of the residents were diagnosed with the Wuhan Pneumonia (COVID-19). Those police that were responsible for standing by inside the building and aiding the evacuation of residents were wearing full protective clothings, whose clothings were definitely of higher class than staff members of Centre for Health Protection. Referring to the video from RTHK, several police officers undressed their protective clothings together at an outdoor space at Cheung Hong Estate. The administrative secretary of Hong Kong Allied Health Professionals and Nurses Association Lau Hoi-man questioned that such errors made by the officers would increase the risk of community infection in his interview with Hong Kong Citizen News.

Lau explained that after medical staff finished with their tasks, they were required to undress their personal protective equipments in a designated area one-by-one, instead of how the police undressed their protective clothings together at a random location. He added that if the protective clothings were contaminated, the risk of them infecting each other would rise as they made such mistakes. Besides, the citizens passing by the place where they undressed might be also infected. Lau reiterated that the used protective clothings must be disposed as medical waste. According to guidances, medical waste should be put in a red plastic bag, then placed in a specific warehouse, instead of putting them in a simple black plastic bag and treat them as normal waste.

Lau pointed out that when the police randomly undressed their protective clothings, they made a mistake by touching the surface of protective clothings, so he advised them to undress them slowly and cautiously. He said that whenever an equipment was taken off, hands must be washed thoroughly. However, the police did not wash their hands before and after undressing their protective clothings. With reference to the guidance of Centre for Health Protection and protective manufacturer DuPont, one should only touch the inner part of the protective clothings, and fold the clothings outwards and dispose it while undressing the clothings.

Lau further doubted that the standard of Centre for Health Protection staff members’ protective clothings were way lower than that of the police, and those police were undressing their protective clothings publicly and casually, he considered it as a waste of precious medical resources.

Regarding this incident, the Centre for Health Protection Communicable Disease Branch Head Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan responded in a press conference on 16 February that the Infection Control Branch has handed out guidances on the situations where equipments was applicable correspondingly. For example, the staff members of Centre for Health Protection would only wear goggles, N95 mask and gloves etc. at high risk locations, but they would not high level protective clothings at normal occasions because it was troublesome to take them off. Yet, they were uncertain about other government departments. Apple Daily has inquired the Police Public Relations Branch and was waiting for their reply.

Apple Daily (News)

The Stand News (News)