Washington [US], March 17 (ANI): The United States on Tuesday slammed Chinese and pro-Beijing media outlets, accusing them of leading a 'disinformation campaign' after they accused COVID-infected US consulate staff in Hong Kong of claiming diplomatic immunity to avoid quarantine.
Hong Kong leader Chief Executive Carrie Lam had earlier confirmed that two infected US consulate employees, a married couple, had already been sent to the hospital on Monday night, while special permission had been granted to allow their children to join them instead of being sent into quarantine as per norms, according to South China Morning Post (SCMP).
However, she emphasised the exceptional treatment for the pair was made on compassionate grounds and based on their family circumstances, rather than their status as consulate workers.
Despite this, a pro-Beijing online news portal accused the pair of using diplomatic immunity to avoid being quarantined, which was then suggested by other Chinese media as to have 'sparked a public outcry.'
The Beijing-friendly Federation of Trade Union on Tuesday staged a protest outside the consulate's Garden Road offices, following a similar rally by the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong the day before, reported SCMP. on Tuesday. The protesters demanded that no one should be above the city's anti-pandemic rules and urged all United States consular staff to be tested as soon as possible.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page on Tuesday, the consulate hit back, saying: "The disinformation campaign from Chinese-controlled media about the two positive cases among US consulate personnel, and our response, is false."
"We reject these efforts to spread disinformation about a critical public health issue," it said.
According to SCMP, Lam's clarification came as many people have raised concerns over young children being sent to government quarantine facilities, according to a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, the US Department of State has commented on this issue or on the COVID-infected pair. (ANI)