(Update 2: Changes headline, lede, adds detail and quotes)
By Shirley Lau and Victor Escribano
Hong Kong, Jul 31 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said the year-long postponement of the city’s September legislative elections was due to “extreme health risks” posed by a recent resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic and was not politically driven.
Authorities in the city on Friday announced the delay to the vote, which was slated for 6 September.
“The decision to delay the election is entirely to do with public health safety and is meant to make sure the election is held in a fair and open manner. There is absolutely no political consideration,” Lam said at a press conference.
“Suppose the turnout is 70 percent, there would be three million voters going to 615 polling stations to vote… The large number of people gathering in the same places would pose a very high infection risk.”
It is the first time the Asian financial hub’s Legislative Council (LegCo) election was delayed since its first poll was held in 1985 and the first direct election in 1998.
The delay came amid a sudden spike in Covid-19 infections in Hong Kong, after having managed to flatten the curve for several months.
Over the past three weeks, 2,800 new cases have been recorded, accounting for almost 70 percent of the total of 3,272.
The overall death toll remained relatively low at 27 as of Friday.