Just as the city is grappling with the coronavirus outbreak, unruly protests have returned to the streets. This is not surprising, as the government budget has renewed concerns over additional funding and manpower sought by the police in the coming year. More importantly, the underlying causes of the crisis sparked last year by the now-withdrawn extradition bill remain unaddressed. The latest clashes, the largest since the onslaught of Covid-19 in late January, took place outside Prince Edward MTR station, where activists believe demonstrators were killed by police during a clearance operation on August 31 last year, despite repeated official denials and a lack of any evidence. Whether they signify a resurgence of unrest remains to be seen. But it would seem naive to treat the trouble as an isolated incident. With many issues and underlying causes of the political turmoil yet to be addressed, those who take issue with the government’s handling of the unrest are understandably frustrated. There would probably have been more clashes with police over the past few weeks had there been no epidemic. But pursuing political courses with violence cannot be justified. The disturbing images of masked protesters blocking roads and a police officer pointing his pistol at the crowd while retreating do nothing for a city in the midst of a widening public health crisis. Tensions have been renewed by the news of police seeking more funding and additional manpower in the coming financial year. While it is necessary for every government department to be given sufficient resources to discharge duties and services, the relatively substantial rise in the police budget, up from the original HK$20.68 billion in 2019 to HK$25.8 billion in the coming year, deserves further explanation. The epidemic must be the top priority. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also said her administration could not afford to divert attention from the coronavirus outbreak. Be that as it may, the extradition bill fiasco remains unresolved. Anti-government sentiment has just been suppressed by an escalating health crisis. Expectations of a dialogue with the people and an independent inquiry into the unrest will still have to be addressed when the epidemic stabilises.