Editorial : The procurement of masks

【明報專訊】IT REMAINS uncertain when the novel coronavirus epidemic will peak. Facing the threat of the virus, the government has to tackle the epidemic and address public sentiments. Both tasks are equally important. Whether Hong Kong will successfully stave off the epidemic depends on whether there are major outbreaks in the communities, the final number of diagnoses and the final number of deaths. At this stage it is difficult to be certain about them. But it is obvious that the government has done a poor job of handling public sentiments. While not everyone is equally afraid of or worried about the epidemic, the chaotic situations originating from the hoarding and price-gouging of masks and the scramble for daily necessities have definitely affected the public as a whole. Citizens do not feel that the government has taken any decisive action to alleviate this problem. The issue of masks reflects the strength and mindset of the SAR government. Unlike the Taiwanese or the Singaporean government, it has not vigorously interfered in the use of and demand for masks. As for ensuring supply, it is doubtful whether its global procurement strategy has been effective.