Hong Kong's Carrie Lam explains maskless appearances

"Now I am very sombre, I am very solemn, because I am very worried ... people need to understand and feel my feeling," Lam told a weekly press conference.

Lam has been criticised on social media and by some health experts for not wearing a mask while asking society to follow the strict rules her government has reimposed. Lam told reporters her decision not to wear a mask during media briefings was "well thought out" and that she wears one during other activities.

Lam also urged people to avoid gatherings and family reunions over the Lunar New Year period at the start of February and reiterated that social restrictions are unlikely to be relaxed after the break as initially hoped.

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