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By: KOO Chi Tung 顧知桐Edited by: Robin Ewing

Government u-turn on quarantine policy for residents coming from Guangdong not because of external pressure, CE says

  • 2021-05-25

The policy reversal that will continue to allow Hongkongers to return from Guangdong province without quarantine was not based on external pressure, Chief Executive Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said before the weekly Executive Council meeting this morning. Last Saturday, the Centre for Health Protection announced that Guangdong province would be listed as medium risk after a Covid-19 case was found in Guangzhou, effectively cancelling the Return2hk scheme for the province. The Return2hk travel scheme, launched in November, allows residents returning from certain areas of the mainland, including Guangdong province and Macao, to be exempt from 14-day quarantine. Former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying questioned the move in a post on Facebook at 8:36 pm that night, saying the plan was a puzzle. “The area of Guangzhou city is 7,434 sq km. The area of remaining places in Guangdong Province is 23 times larger than Guangzhou city. When there is a case in Guangzhou, Return2hk cannot apply to the whole province. This is what I am unable to understand,” he wrote in the Facebook post. Two hours after Mr Leung’s critical post, the government announced only the Jinlong Huixin building in Guangzhou, where the case was found, would be classified as medium risk. Mrs Lam said today the original arrangement was “not very proportionate”. “When the government officials knew about the decision, they thought that immediate adjustments were needed and made it that night,” she said. She said the Secretary for Food and Health had the authority to decide the locations placed on the risk list and that they acted according to the existing mechanism. The next step is to allow mainland residents to come to the city with quotas and certain restrictions in order to boost labour flow, Mrs Lam added at the press conference. She said she is still discussing with …

Mainland man jailed for more than six years for stabbing Hong Kong protester

  • 2021-05-14

A mainland Chinese man was sentenced to six years and four months imprisonment in a Hong Kong court today for wounding with intent a young protestor who was distributing leaflets in Tai Po during the anti-extradition bill movement in 2019. Liu Guosheng, a 24-year-old cook, slashed the neck and stabbed the abdomen of a 19-year-old student in a pedestrian tunnel near the Tai Po Market MTR station on Oct. 19, 2019. Judge Andrew Chan Hing-wai said the attack was premeditated as the defendant purchased a fruit knife a day before the incident despite the victim being randomly chosen. He added the defendant was persistent in his attack and his intention was to kill the victim. He also said the injuries of the victim were serious and far-reaching, including physical pain for a long period of time and psychological impact, which was the most difficult to treat. “The life of a very young man has been ruined,” the judge said. He described the case as “one of the senseless episodes” during the protest in 2019. The judge said the use of violence did not and would not resolve any political differences. He said six months remission was given to the defendant for his voluntary surrender.

Health & Environment

Hundreds of residents in Tsuen Wan building sent to quarantine after mutant strain found

Residents of more than 220  households in Block R of Allway Gardens in Tsuen Wan were sent  to government quarantine for 21 days after a Filipino domestic helper tested positive for the mutant coronavirus strain.     “The whole arrangement was very confusing,” Tsuen Wan District Councilor Chiu Yan-loy said. “I have received messages from the elderly living alone saying that they were unable to sleep for the whole night and felt worried about the next step.   “Their worries are from the lack of support, no officials telling them what they need to do next and what they are going to encounter.”   Fully vaccinated residents are also required to quarantine for 21 days, Mr Chiu said.   The government will meet today to consider shortening quarantine time for the vaccinated.   University of Hong Kong microbiologist Ho Pak-leung said in a Commercial Radio interview that it is safe to shorten the quarantine.   “Vaccination is not only for protecting oneself. There is already strong data proving that it is effective to reduce the spreading,” Dr Ho said to Commercial Radio.   But chairman of the Medical Association's advisory committee on communicable diseases Leung Chi-chiu said in an RTHK interview that it is dangerous to shorten the quarantine period.   “None of the vaccines including the two that we are using cannot affect the spreading. There is a lack of information especially for variant viruses,” Dr Leung said to RTHK.

Hong Kong government mulls over mandatory vaccination policy for foreign domestic helpers

  • 2021-05-04

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Yuet-ngor said before the weekly Executive Council meeting this morning that the authority has yet to make any final decision on compulsory vaccination for foreign domestic workers when they renew their contracts. The announcement came after the Philippines Consul General in Hong Kong said any mandatory vaccination requirement should apply to all foreign workers, not just Filipinos. Mrs Lam said she has requested the Labour and Welfare Bureau to look into the details since it is the first mandatory vaccination policy in the city and some workers may have health concerns that might stop them from getting vaccinated. “I have asked the Labour and Welfare Bureau to review the reasons, feasibility, and to discuss with experts including consulates of countries where domestic helpers come from,” she said. “We will add new requirements when foreign helpers apply for visas including injection of approved Covid-19 vaccines,” the Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said on Sunday, “It is not a harsh requirement for granting them visas.” Secretary of foreign affairs for the Philippines, Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on Twitter after the Hong Kong announcement that the proposed mandatory vaccine policy “smacks of discrimination”. “If it is a special favor, it is unfair to other nationalities. Hong Kong can do better than that,” Mr Locsin added. Mrs Lam said disease prevention measures are based on public health, science and objectiveness and there is no discrimination against any race, language or social status. The measures, she added, depend on the nature and the risks of the industry. “Foreign domestic helpers have a habit of gathering during weekends and their work nature involves closed contact including taking care of the elderly and children,” she said. The compulsory testing policy which requires all helpers to be tested before next Sunday will …