Unlike some countries where politicians have come under fire for breaking government Covid-19 rules, Hong Kong had kept clear of such controversy until this week when some officials and lawmakers were found to have ignored health advice and attended a big birthday party amid a worrying Omicron outbreak. The scandal escalated further on Friday with reports they were exposed to at least two Covid-19 cases and the quarantine of 170 partygoers , including dozens of top officials and lawmakers. It would not be surprising if more disturbing details unfold. What is clear, though, is that the political fiasco cannot be resolved without resorting to the highest level of accountability. The outrage goes beyond the fact that the public is now bound by the evening dine-in ban and other restrictions. The party, to mark the 53rd birthday of state legislator Witman Hung Wai-man, was held at a Wan Chai restaurant on Monday. Most officials were initially spared quarantine as they were said to have left before the arrival of a guest who later tested preliminary positive. The decision to send all those who attended to Penny’s Bay quarantine centre only came on Friday after another guest tested positive. Whether the isolation of lawmakers will affect the Legislative Council, which begins its new term next week, remains to be seen. However, there is no worse way to start the term than in disgrace just days after the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office chief set out his expectations for the “patriot-only” legislature. Among those who were at the Shenzhen briefing by Xia Baolong two days after the celebrations was partygoer Junius Ho Kwan-yiu. Currently, political appointees, civil servants and lawmakers have different rules governing their conduct. But none would put them above the law. Regardless of the punishment, the principle is the same. They are expected to adhere to anti-pandemic measures as strictly as anyone, and avoid bringing the government into disrepute. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was questioned about her responsibility after she criticised Cathay Pacific over aircrew who broke quarantine rules and started an Omicron community outbreak. As head of the government, the buck stops with her. Anger, apologies as top Hong Kong officials caught in Covid-19 party scandal At stake is not only public health, but also the credibility and political accountability of her team. If the same were to happen on the mainland, officials involved would probably be sacked straight away. On Thursday, Lam singled out the home affairs chief for censure as he stayed longer at the party than other officials. But it seems other senior people were no less to blame because all guests are now in quarantine regardless of when they left. The handling of the scandal will put Lam to the test.