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New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong’s Covid-19 Response

Overview


The HKSAR Government has implemented a comprehensive and coordinated approach to contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of the community, with actions that are guided by three key principles:



The Government will continue to listen to the views of the experts and various sectors and constantly adjust  the “Supress and Lift” strategy according the actual  situation,  while  considering  the  impact  of  the measures on the economy, livelihood and the daily lives of people.


Emergency arrangements


4 January 2020: The Government activated the “Serious Response Level” for the “Preparedness and Response Plan for Novel Infectious Disease of Public Health Significance” (Preparedness and Response Plan).


6 January 2020: A Steering Committee was formed under the Preparedness and Response Plan.


8 January 2020: COVID-19 was included in the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance.


23 January 2020: The first  quarantine  centre  was  activated, immediately  after  the  first  two confirmed cases of infection in Hong Kong were identified.


25 January 2020: The Government activated the “Emergency Response Level”of the Preparedness and Response Plan. The Chief  Executive Carrie  Lam chairs the Steering Committee-Command  Centre to  oversee concerted efforts to fight the disease. First meeting held on 26 January 2020.


The Chief Executive has set up an expert advisory panel,comprising four world-renowned experts, to advise the Government in a direct and timely manner.


The Government set up a HK$30 billion (US$3.9 billion) anti-epidemic fund on 20 February 2020 and announced another round of HK$137.5 billion (US$17.6 billion) measures on 8 April 2020 to provide resources needed to fight the virus and ease the burden on people and businesses.


Reducing the flow of people between Hong Kong and the Mainland


On 24 January 2020, flights  and  high  speed  rail  services  between Hong  Kong  and Wuhan were suspended.


On 25 January 2020, the Government announced expanding the arrangements of health declaration by in-coming travellers from the Mainlandto all boundary control points.


From 27 January 2020, Hubei residents and  those  who  have visited  Hubei Province in  the  past  14 days (except Hong Kong residents) are barred from entering Hong Kong.


Since 28 January 2020, the Mainland authorities have suspended the application, approval and issuance of  the  group  visit endorsements  and  the  endorsements  under the Individual  Visit  Scheme  for Mainland residents visiting Hong Kong.


From 30 January 2020, flights between  Hong  Kong  and  other  Mainland  cities  have  been reduced by about half in stages.All rail services of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the Intercity Through Train were suspended.


From 1 February 2020,  Hong Kong International Airport  implemented body temperature checks for departing  passengers (inline with WHO advice) in addition to temperature checks for all incoming passengers. Those with fever are prevented from boarding until cleared.


From 4 February 2020, the Government closed all but two land boundary control points (Shenzhen Bay  and  Hong  Kong-Zhuhai-Macao  Bridge (HZMB))  with  the  Mainland  to  stem  the  flow  of  cross-boundary travel. All ferry services to and from the Mainland and Macao were suspended. Entry  points  at Shenzhen  Bay, HZMB as  well  as Hong  Kong  International Airport remain open with customs and health monitoring resources concentrated at these entry points.


On 5 February 2020, immigration services at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and Ocean Terminal were suspended.


Since 7 February 2020, the Mainland  authorities  have suspended  the  processing  of the business  visit endorsements for Mainland residents to travel to Hong Kong.


From 3 April 2020, the operating hours of the passenger clearance services at the Shenzhen Bay Port have been adjusted to run from 10am to 8pm daily. The operating hours for cargo clearance remain unchanged (i.e. from 6:30am to midnight daily).


From 5 April 2020, the operating hours of clearance for cross-boundary coaches and shuttle buses passengers at the HZMB Hong Kong Port have been shortened to run from 10am to 8pm daily,and the operating hours of the clearance for private cars have been shortened to run from 6am to 10pm daily. The operating hours for cargo clearance remain unchanged (i.e. 24 hours daily).


Preventing imported cases


The  Centre  for  Health  Protection  (CHP)  strongly  urges  members  of  the  public  to avoid  all  non-essential travel outside Hong Kong.


From 8 March 2020,  the  health  declaration  arrangements  at  HKIA  were  expanded  to  all  flights  arriving Hong Kong.


Effective 25 March 2020, all non-Hong  Kong residents arriving from  overseas  countries  and  regions by plane will be denied entry to Hong Kong until further notice. Non-Hong Kong residents arriving from the Mainland, Macao and Taiwan who have visited any overseas countries and regions in the past 14 days will be denied entry to Hong Kong until further notice. All transit services at HKIA suspended until further notice. All inbound travellers,including Hong Kong and non-Hong Kong residents, are subject to a 14-day compulsory quarantine (apart from persons exempted under relevant regulations).


From 8 April 2020,all arrivals at HKIA are required to immediately collect their deep throat saliva sample for taking a COVID-19 test at the nearby Temporary Specimen Collection Centre (TSCC) in Asia World-Expo.


From 9 April 2020, asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving on flights from the United Kingdom are required to await COVID-19  test  results before  leaving TSCC. All travellers from the United States and Europe and those arriving on other flights landing in mornings are required to wait for the test results, effective from 13 April and 19 April respectively.


From 22 April 2020, all asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving at HKIA are required to wait for test results before leaving. Passengers arriving by flights in mornings will stay at TSCC to wait for test results, while those who need to wait for test results overnight will be temporarily accommodated in the Department of Health Holding Centre for Test Result at the Regal Oriental Hotel. As a result of the above measures, the number of arrivals in Hong Kong via all control points (including airport) has dropped significantly.


Total  arrivals on 1 January were 421,844; on 15 January they were 372,755; on 31 January they had  dropped to 140,859. By 4 February they had further dropped to 69,812 and on 7 May the number was 1,231.


Quarantine arrangements for people at risk of carrying the infection


People  who  are close contacts  of  confirmed  COVID-19  cases,  but  are  asymptomatic,  will  be placed under compulsory quarantine at dedicated quarantine centres.


A locally developed smart bracelet connected to the user’s smart-phone will be used in some cases to ensure people comply with quarantine requirements.


Those placed under mandatory quarantine will be subject to regular and surprise checks (phone calls and visits) to ensure they are at the intended place of quarantine.


Contravening the quarantine requirement would be a criminal offence. Offenders are subject to a maximum fine of HK$25,000 and imprisonment for six months.


The relevant departments will step  up  inspections  and  adopt  "zero  tolerance"  towards  those  contravening  the  quarantine order. Immediate prosecution will be taken without any warning.


The public can make use of the "e-Report Room" to report suspected cases of breaching quarantine orders.


Currently, there are four operating quarantine centres, namely Chun Yeung Estate in Fo Tan, the Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village in Chai Wan, the Heritage Lodge at the Jao Tsung-I Academy in Lai Chi Kok and JPC Permanent Activity Centre and Integrated Youth Training Camp in Pat Heung, Yuen Long, providing about 1,700 units.


Two temporary  accommodation facilities  offered  by  the  Government, Tso  Kung  Tam  Outdoor  Recreation  Centre and Lady MacLehose  Holiday  Village, have  also  been  made  available  for  persons  under  compulsory quarantine who are unable to arrange accommodation.


Enhanced Laboratory Surveillance Programme


Rapid testing is available in public hospital laboratories to shorten the waiting time for test results.


From 9 March 2020, the CHP extended  the Enhanced  Laboratory  Surveillance  Programme, which provides a free testing service for COVID-19, to cover all private clinics and hospitals so that cases of COVID-19 can be identified early in order to minimise the risk of community transmission.


A total of 64  General  Out-patient  Clinics  and  17  Accident  and  Emergency  Departments  under  the  Hospital Authority are covered by the Programme.


From 29 March March 2020, the CHP further extended the Enhanced Laboratory Surveillance Programme to cover all asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving from all places under the Compulsory Quarantine of Persons Arriving at Hong Kong from Foreign Places Regulation.


From 3 April 2020, participants of the Enhanced Laboratory Surveillance Programme can make use of a door-to-door  specimen collection  service from  member  companies  of  the  Cyberport  Startup Alumni Association to submit their deep throat saliva specimens to the Dept of Health for COVID-19 testing.


Effective 8 April  2020,  the  Enhanced  Laboratory  Surveillance  Programme  was  further  extended  to  inbound travellers  who have  been  to Hubei  Province  in  the  past  14  days  arriving  via  land  boundary control points (Shenzhen Bay Port and the HZMB).


From 20 April 2020, all asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving at HKIA are provided with a container for collecting  their deep throat  saliva  sample  for  another  round  of  virus  testing during the compulsory quarantine.


From May  12, public  hospitals  will  conduct COVID-19 testing  for inpatients  with  influenza-like illness symptoms. Admission screening is conducted for a random sample of institutional residents and patients admitted to psychiatric wards.


From May 15, Dept of Health sets up a service point at HKIA to provide containers to airport workers for collecting their deep throat saliva samples for testing of  COVID-19.


From May 20, COVID-19 testing will be conducted for selected staff members at residential care homes for the elderly, residential care homes for persons with disabilities and nursing homes


Promoting social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19


Classes at  all Hong  Kong schools have  been  suspended  since  Chinese  New  Year  holidays (late January 2020).


The Government announced that classes will resume by phases in a gradual and orderly manner from 20 May 2020.


Schools  should  ensure  that  adequate  preventive  measures  have  been implemented before class resumption.


On 21 March 2020, the Government announced that the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education examinations were deferred to 24 April and the speaking examinations of both Chinese and English language subjects were cancelled.


From 23 March 2020, a "work from home" arrangement has been implemented again for Government employees, except for those providing emergency, essential and limited basic public services.As the epidemic situation continued to stabilise, the Government has resumed public services under a phased approach from 4 May 2020.


The Government will continue to cancel or postpone events that attract large crowds.


Until June 4, catering premises are required to implement measures to promote social distancing:


Amusement game centres,fitness centres,places of amusement,places of public entertainment such as cinemas,premises commonly known as bars or pubs, mahjong-tin kau premises,beauty parlours and massage establishments have been allowed to resume operation from May 8 subject to conditions to promote social distancing.The measure will be in effect until June 4.


Bathhouses, "party rooms  for hire for holding social gatherings,karaoke establishments,and clubs or nightclubs are required to remain closed until May 28. Offenders are subject to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.


Group  gatherings of more than eight people  in public  places are prohibited apart from gatherings exempted under relevant regulation. The prohibition will remain in force until June 4. Offenders are liable to a maximum penalty $25,000 and imprisonment for six months.


Facilitating the return of Hong Kong residents from COVID-19 hotspots


Between 19 and 23 February 2020, for Hong Kong passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, the Government arranged three free chartered flights to bring a total of 193 Hong Kong residents who had tested negative for COVID-19, back to Hong Kong. After their arrival at Hong Kong, they were taken to the  quarantine centre in Chun Yeung Estate for quarantine observation for 14 days.


The Government arranged eight chartered flights to take a total of 1,027 Hong  Kong residents stranded in Hubei Province back to Hong Kong on 4, 25 and 26 March 2020. After their arrival in Hong Kong, they were required to undergo compulsory quarantine for 14 days.


Peru has declared a state of emergency and imposed strict restrictions on all land and air traffic. A chartered flight was arranged on 3 April 2020 to fly Hong Kong residents from Lima to London, followed by a connecting flight with secured flight bookings back to Hong Kong. The costs were borne by the users. Sixty five Hong Kong residents took the chartered flights and arrived in Hong Kong on 5 April. They were required to undergo 14 days of compulsory quarantine.


Pakistan and India have banned  all  international  flights since late March. A chartered  flight from Islamabad was  arranged on April  30 for  the  return  of 319 Hong  Kong  residents  stranded  in  Pakistan. Another chartered  flight departed from  New Delhi on May  17 brought back 249 Hong  Kong  residents stranded  in India.The costs were borne by the users. The  two  groups  of Hong  Kong residents were transferred to Chun Yeung Estate for a 14-day compulsory quarantine after arriving in Hong Kong


Boosting supply of personal protective equipment


To meet high demand, the Government is taking a multi-pronged approach to increase the supply of  surgical  masks  including sourcing  globally, increasing  local  production, and liaison with relevant Mainland authorities to facilitate speedy clearance and delivery to Hong Kong.


Priorities include  meeting  the needs  of  healthcare  workers and  other personnel  providing services to the public, as well as stabilising the market supply.


The Government introduced the Local Mask Production Subsidy Scheme to help address the shortage of masks as well as to build up stock.


On 24 April 2020, all 20 subsidised production lines under the scheme were approved. When in full production, the production lines will collectively supply 33.85 million masks to the Government and a further 7.15 million to the local market every month.


The Chief Executive announced on 21 March 2020 that two million surgical masks are to be provided monthly to  residential care homes  for  the  elderly  and residential care homes  for persons  with disabilities for use by the nursing staff.


The Government announced on 5 May that locally developed reusable masks will be distributed free to all Hong Kong citizens, except babies and infants. Online registration to obtain the reusable masks began on 6 May 2020.


In addition,a pack of 10 free surgical masks is expected to be distributed to every household in Hong Kong from end-June.


Transparent communication with the public


Daily briefings are held to regularly update the media and the public on the latest developments, including the number of cases and new measures related to COVID-19.


Press conferences are held by senior officials to announce major government decisions and anti-epidemic measures etc.


The Government has launched a dedicated website with useful information and updates on latest developments.


Publicity campaigns to disseminate personal hygiene messages through online and offline media are run in a number of ethnic minority languages apart from English and Chinese.


Tamar Talk Facebook page has  been  launched  to  provide  information  and  clarify rumours  using simple and easy-to-understand text and data.


COVID-19 related links for more information


Website on the Fight Against the Coronavirus
https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/index.html

CHP's geospatial dashboard on COVID-19
https://chp-dashboard.geodata.gov.hk/nia/en.html

Booklet on HKSARG Economic Relief Measures
https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/pdf/fund/CE-Measure-12-eng.pdf

HK University dashboard on COVID-19 (with real-time effective reproductive number)
https://covid19.sph.hku.hk/dashboard

Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation
https://www.elegislation.gov.hk/hk/cap599G

FAQ on new requirements to reduce gatherings
https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/social_distancing-faq.html

Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirement and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation
https://www.elegislation.gov.hk/hk/cap599F

Compulsory Quarantine of Persons Arriving at Hong Kong from Foreign Places Regulation
https://www.elegislation.gov.hk/hk/cap599E
Expires 18 June 2020

Prevention and Control of Disease (Disclosure of Information) Regulation
https://www.elegislation.gov.hk/hk/cap599D

Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong Regulation
https://www.elegislation.gov.hk/hk/cap599C
Expires at midnight on 7 June 2020

WHO Coronavirus website
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

BrandHK COVID-19 Update Page
https://www.brandhk.gov.hk/html/en/WhatSOn/HKUpdate2019.html



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