Hong Kong’s Coroner’s Court has been asked to investigate the cause of death of pro-establishment activist Leticia Lee, who died suddenly before a preliminary test showed she had Covid-19. Yet hospital authorities have not yet linked her death to the virus.
Linda Yu Wai-ling, chief manager of the Hospital Authority, said that on Wednesday a 56-year-old woman was rushed to Pok Oi Hospital in Yuen Long after fainting at home. She was declared dead in the ambulance at 1:30 pm.
“We’ve referred the case to the coroner for further assessment,” Yu said, adding that no medical staff at the hospital had close contact with the woman.
Media reports said the deceased was Lee, who founded the pro-establishment group Justice Alliance in 2013 and the Alliance In Support Of Our Police Force in 2014. According to the reports, five police officers who arrived Lee’s home after receiving a call may have to be quarantined.
Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable diseases branch at the Center for Health Protection, said the woman had a fever and was coughing for a week but it was unclear whether she had sought medical treatment or had taken a Covid test. Chuang said her infection had no known source.
Lee’s death was the most-searched news on social media platforms on Wednesday evening. Pro-establishment people were surprised about the sudden death of Lee, who remained active on social media until last Saturday.
On December 10, she posted a short video about the fight against the epidemic son Facebook. Last Saturday, she slammed Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai, who is in custody on national security charges, with hashtags “Karma kicks in,” “Poisoning Hong Kong” and “Support the National Security Law.” On the same day, she criticized former pro-democracy lawmaker Baggio Leung for fleeing to the United States.
Lee had been a high-profile public figure since she started leading pro-government street protests against democrats and supporting the Hong Kong police from 2013. She had many verbal fights with young protesters during the Umbrella Movement in 2014.
In 2016, she was accused by Tsoi Yak-kin, the then vice-chairman of the Justice Alliance, of misusing HK$220,000 (US$28,378) of the alliance’s funds and failing to repay HK$800,000 she borrowed from comrades. Tsoi said the alliance had reported the case to the police. However, Lee denied the accusations and said Tsoi was involved in fraud.
Lee made a bid for public office when she contested a New Territories East seat in the Legislative Council elections in 2016. She failed to make the cut.
This year, Lee remained active in demonstrations in support of the government and the police. On September 29, she led a dozen people to support Police Commissioner Chris Tang before he attended a District Council meeting. She gave a bunch of flowers to Tang and they took selfies without masks.
Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, a pro-Beijing lawmaker of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, called Lee a close friend and a talented and courageous individual.
Leung said she invited Lee to take part in the production of a video about national education but Lee turned it down for health reasons. Leung said Lee got a cold but tested negative for Covid-19 at that time.
Nathan Law, a former Hong Kong lawmaker who moved to the United Kingdom, wrote in a post on social media that pro-establishment people could be categorized into three types: “opportunists, vested interests and leftists. Lee was probably an opportunist.”
Lee joined the pro-establishment camp, or so-called the “blue ribbon” camp, for money and enjoyed a lot of applause from the camp’s supporters, Law said. He wrote her activities often distracted the public from looking into the government’s wrongdoings.
On Monday, police said in a Facebook post that a 44-year-old male sergeant tested positive in a quarantine center after six officers were identified as infected.
As the post misstated the dates and the number of previously infected officers, the Facebook manager of the page was ordered to fix them but mistakenly included a sentence “Joey, can you amend it in a low profile way?” plus an emoji.
The post was screen-grabbed by netizens before it was removed and reposted. Since then, “low-profile Joey” has become a hot slang among Hong Kong netizens.
The Center for Health Protection said 96 cases, six imported and 90 local, were reported on Wednesday. Of the local cases, 26 had no known source. More than 70 people tested positive preliminarily on Thursday.
Four hair stylists and a customer of Glow Salon and Spa on Wellington Street in Central were found to be infected. More than 30 staff have been put under quarantine. Health authorities ordered people who have been to the salon after December 8 to get tested.