Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam's approval rating plunges to new low amid coronavirus outbreak

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam's government has come under fire from some groups for not doing enough to ward off a public health crisis as the number of confirmed virus cases continues to climb.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam's government has come under fire from some groups for not doing enough to ward off a public health crisis as the number of confirmed virus cases continues to climb.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam's approval rating has sunk to a new low of just 9.1 per cent as her government faces criticism over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Few of the 1,008 Hong Kong residents surveyed by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme between Feb 17 and 19 expressed confidence in the city's chief executive.

That figure was down 4.2 percentage points from a survey early in the month, the biggest plunge between polls since historic anti-government protests erupted in the city last June.

Other key readings from the new survey - including confidence in the "one country, two systems" principle by which the Asian financial hub is governed by China, satisfaction with the government and current livelihood conditions - also registered record lows.

Mrs Lam's government has come under fire from some groups for not doing enough to ward off a public health crisis as the number of confirmed virus cases continues to climb, rising to 84 on Tuesday (Feb 25).

The virus first emerged in central China in December, piling pressure on Mrs Lam after months of often-violent demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Facing the double whammy of protests and virus outbreak, economists expect Hong Kong to see its first ever back-to-back annual decline.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan is expected to detail his forecasts for the economy in his annual budget speech on Wednesday.

Seventy per cent of the 1,120 Hong Kong residents surveyed last week were dissatisfied with the government's efforts to stem the health crisis, including failing to remedy a shortage of surgical masks that left people queueing around the city, choosing quarantine sites close to residential areas, and not quickly and fully sealing off the mainland border.