The government has been criticised for its poor response to the escalating public health crisis, and with valid reason. From securing surgical masks for citizens to curbing the spread of the deadly coronavirus, a lot more should have been done earlier. Adding to the woes is the plight of thousands of Hongkongers stranded in mainland China , with at least seven having come down with the disease, Covid-19, in Wuhan, ground zero of the epidemic, and three others in Hubei province. Officials must work harder to provide more relief to them. Thousands of locals were known to be in the province when the outbreak emerged early this year. Officials said the lockdown in Wuhan made gathering them together for evacuation difficult, but pledged to take care of their needs. Now it has emerged that at least 10 have been infected. The news only came on Wednesday when Hong Kong reported its first recovery from the illness . With the mainland medical system being stretched to the limit, the dreadful situation can only be imagined. Some of the stranded citizens were admitted to hospitals following intervention by the Hong Kong government. The help sought by the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau in a letter to a local hospital, obtained and reported by the Post , showed special concessions had to be made that added to the burden of the facility. The predicament could have been avoided had the government planned ahead from the start. Despite several countries evacuating their nationals via chartered flights, Hong Kong appeared resigned to not rescuing its citizens owing to perceived difficulties. The epidemic is spreading so rapidly that many more Hongkongers could be infected. The surge in confirmed cases following changes in diagnostic criteria on the mainland merely underlines the threat. Hong Kong discharges first virus patient, 10 more diagnosed The sorry state of affairs has not only upset those who are exposed to the risk on the mainland, but also reinforced public perception that officials are dragging their feet over matters of life and death, further damaging government credibility. There must be greater coordination with the mainland authorities to help those in need. The last thing the people want to hear is, “Sorry, there is nothing we can do.” Such an attitude is not that of a can-do government as claimed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. Thursday’s reshuffle of key officials by Beijing, including the appointment of Xia Baolong, a former chief of Zhejiang province who is currently vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, as the new director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office is a reminder of the importance attached to accountability as supervision is strengthened over the special administrative regions and the mainland.