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Health & Environment


Policy Address 2022: More incinerators to build; yet recyclers seek more efforts

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Ming Min AW YONG、Dhuha AL-ZAIDIEdited by: Tracy Leung、Jayde Cheung
  • 2022-10-20

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-Chiu said at the policy address speech that more incinerators will be set up to achieve the goal of “zero landfill” in 2035, yet recyclers thought efforts are still lacking.  “The (recycling) industry lacks support. Before building incinerators, recycling has to be done”, said Harold Yip, the co-founder and administrative director of Mil Mill, Hong Kong’s first paper-packed beverage box recycling pulp mill. The government selected Shek Kwu Chau and Tsang Tsui to be where the two incinerators sit in 2008, according to the World Green Organisation. While the construction at Shek Kwu Chau commenced in 2017 and will take effect in 2025, the second incinerator is still pending construction. More incinerators will probably be built in the Northern Metropolis, according to Wednesday’s policy address. The incinerator in Shek Kwu Chau is expected to occupy ​​10 hectares and process 3,000 tons of waste daily. Besides, private recyclers account for more than half of the capability of incinerators, according to the Legislative Council.  Mil Mill, a company processes about 50 tons of paper-packed beverage boxes that can make recycled pulp, however, was informed to move out from the original site last month.  Recyclers urge to increase infrastructure for recycling and accelerate the leasing process, despite the two incinerators and recycling promotion that are used to achieve Zero Landfill by 2035, according to the Policy Address.  The company was initially offered a lease at Yuen Long Industrial Estate at the Science and Technology Parks Corporation. However, the lease was not renewed as the park had altered it for “re-industrialisation” projects such as microelectronics development under the policy of the Hong Kong government.  Although the government has offered Mil Mill a six-month lease extension until June 30 next year, Yip said the Science and Technology Park did not give …


Policy Address 2022: Elderly Health Care Voucher enhanced but still lacking

To improve the Elderly Health Care Voucher Scheme, John Lee promised to expand its coverage and amount, while increasing the quota for the Residential Care Homes for the Elderly (RCHEs) next year. The voucher amount would be raised to HK$ 2,500 per year from the previous year’s HK$2,000. The voucher amount in 2018 and 2019 was HK$ 3,000. The enhanced Scheme allows holders of such vouchers’ spouses to enjoy its services. New services include medical procedures by audiologists, dietitians, clinical psychologists and speech therapists. This could potentially help grassroot elderly, according to Yuen Wai-kee, assistant professor of the Department of Economics and Finance at Hong Kong Shue Yan University. Elderly aged 65 or above with a Hong Kong Identity Card or equivalent identification by the Immigration Department are eligible to use the Voucher for primary healthcare services. “Some elderly people need long-term medication, such as Cholesterol medicines. This would cost them around HK$ 200 per month. This could be a substantial amount, burdening the more grassroot elderly,” said Yuen. However, this is only adequate for elderly who require basic medical care or occasional clinical visits, Yuen added. For more advanced or private healthcare, they should seek other governmental subsidies, Yuen explained. “The HK$ 2,000 Elderly Health Care Voucher is insufficient, because we often feel unwell and need diagnosis and medications. The voucher will soon be used up after going to the clinic about 4 times,” said Lam Bing, a 82-year-old lady. Lam lives in a public housing estate in Mei Foo. On 13 Oct under typhoon signal number three, she went to Pei Ho, a charity restaurant in Sham Shui Po for a free meal. Chan Cheuk-Ming, founder of Pei Ho revealed most elderly use the voucher for healthcare purposes, making the budget for daily expenses tight. Oxfam suggests that …


Live performances to resume in bars, restaurants

The government announced live performances will resume in premises from Oct. 20, as social distancing measures are further relaxed. Live performances and dance shows will be allowed to resume in bars, nightclubs, movie theatres, museums and other indoor areas next Thursday, said Under Secretary for Health, Libby Lee Ha-yun, at a press conference yesterday. Performers must conduct PCR tests twice a week, Lee said. Negative rapid antigen test results remain required before entering the performance venue. Performers should wear masks when performing on stage. Babita Rai, 47, manager of Ned Kelly's Last Stand, a live music venue in Tsim Sha Tsui, said she welcomes the policy. The bar, which has been in operation since 1972, has faced a huge financial loss since 2020, she said. "After Oct 20, we will do everything to recover our loss," Rai said. The maximum number of people per table increased from eight to 12 for food premises and 4 to 6 for bars and nightclubs on Sept 30, 2022.


New LeaveHomeSafe arrangement disturb residential students

More than 20 students queue up at the residential halls after Hong Kong Baptist University requires the LeaveHomeSafe mobile app, while lifting all other registration requirements and to set foot in the school.   Starting from Oct 8, students and staff need to scan the LeaveHomeSafe QR code before entering the university, according to the school's internal email delivered last Monday.  The new arrangement replaced the identity verification and health declaration that was used since the start of the pandemic. Vaccination requirement is lifted to attend face-to-face lessons, despite special premises including sport facilities and restaurants. The undergraduate housings firstly started the LeaveHomeSafe system last Friday, together with the existing identity verification system. Only blue code holders are permitted to the hall. “Last time I spent around 15 minutes to get in and then waiting for the elevator for an even longer time,” said Yernar Baltabay, a hall resident. “ People are forced to huddle together.”  The undergraduate halls offer 1,770 residences for full-time students. Residents have to record their entrance to the hall by scanning the LeaveHomeSafe QR code, and scan the vaccine pass by a mobile phone app at an appropriate distance and angle. The mobile phone cannot detect vaccine passes sometimes, according to Freya Chan, a hall resident. “Usually you will spend a long time getting the machine to read your QR code. If you move slowly, the queue will start behind you. That is extremely embarrassing,” she said. If the scanning does not work, students need to show their vaccine records to security guards in the hall for confirmation. “We are willing to better serve students using this system, but we now spend more time and energy checking the Vaccine Pass in person, because the machine is not working well,” said the security guard Chan Chung, who …


Hong Kong aims to ease COVID-19 border restrictions for tourism

A week has passed since the “0+3” scheme ending hotel quarantine kicked in, but many are looking forward to further relaxations of COVID-19 restrictions. “The ‘0+0’ entry requirement is imperative,” Legislative Councillor Michael Tien Puk-su said on an RTHK radio programme on Monday. Tien said he expected the government to drop the three days of medical surveillance for arrivals as early as this week and no later than the third week of October. Hong Kong started “0+3” on Monday with inbound travellers subject to three days of medical surveillance, including not being allowed to enter restaurants, bars and gyms. Arrivals have to wait for their vaccine pass, held in the government app LeaveHome Safe, to turn blue. Nucleic acid PCR tests are required on airport arrival as well as the second, fourth and sixth day along with daily rapid antigen tests, according to the Centre of Health Protection website. “Although Hong Kong has shortened the quarantine period, it is still troublesome for me as I have to scan the LeaveHomeSafe app when visiting designated venues such as restaurants and tourist spots,” Kwack Ho-wook, a student from South Korea, who arrived in Hong Kong last Friday to visit a friend, said. Kwack added he had to buy a more expensive plane ticket due to limited flights. The number of inbound travellers has not significantly increased since the new scheme. Hong Kong Airport recorded 39,283 arrivals last week, about 6,000 visitors more than the previous week. Less than a tenth of the arrivals were not Hong Kong or mainland residents, according to the Immigration Department statistics. Since the pandemic, there has been a decline in travellers with a record 97.4 % drop in the number of visitors in 2021 while the number of arrivals fell from 3.57 million in 2020 to 91,398 …


Vaccine pass for young children kicks in on Friday

From Friday, children aged 5-11 years need to produce a vaccine pass in order to enter public premises such as restaurants, libraries and amusement parks. To meet the requirement, kids in the age range must have received at least one vaccine dose within the past three months, and those who received their first dose earlier must get a second jab. The second phase will begin on Nov. 30, when all children in this age group should have two injections. Parents can add their children’s vaccination records to their own “Leave Home Safe” mobile app. A new feature on the risk-exposure app allows users to upload additional vaccine passes for their companions, such as children and the elderly. “The adding procedure is a bit complicated,” said Sin Ka-yan, mother of a 9-year-old boy, “I cannot find the uploading access.” Some children were denied access to public places on Friday because they could not provide proof of vaccination. Joey Cheung, a staff member of a children's amusement arcade, said in some cases parents forgot to apply for their children’s vaccine passes. “I'm sorry, but we can’t let them in,” she said. Among some 400,000 children aged five to 11, only about 50,000 have not received a single dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, Secretary for the Civil Service, Ingrid Yeung Ho Poi-yan said last Thursday. However, Yeung said the change in vaccine pass requirements should not result in many unvaccinated children being barred from certain venues because some of them may have been previously infected and have to wait to get the vaccine. The Hong Kong Committee on Children's Rights said on Facebook that the vaccine pass policy will prevent some children from participating in activities in public places that are critical to their development. “We think that there can be some compromises, …


Free at last: Hong Kong to scrap hotel quarantine from Monday

Hong Kong announced on Friday it will end the hotel quarantine for all arrivals from next Monday, a long awaited move after an over two-year period of tough pandemic control amid Covid-19. “We will give Hong Kong the greatest space to connect with the world, give society the greatest economic impetus, reduce inconvenience for those who come to Hong Kong and not retrace our steps,” Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said at a press briefing on Friday. The new policy changes the quarantine period from “3+4” to “0+3”. The mandatory hotel isolation scheme is cancelled. Starting next Monday, inbound travellers will only need to undergo three-day medical surveillance in their home place or hotel. The pre-departure PCR test requirement will also be replaced by a rapid antigen test within 24 hours of departure. "I am very happy that the government has eventually changed the policy, and life is finally back to normal," said Xu Jilin, 22, a student from mainland China at the University of Hong Kong. He has already booked a flight to Thailand for the upcoming winter break after seeing the government's moves in lifting travel restrictions. Yoyo Li, 35, is planning for her next trip abroad right after the announcement was released. She just came back from a vacation in Japan early this month. “I couldn't resist travelling when the 3+4 policy was announced last month," she said. "Now that there is no longer a need for mandatory quarantine, I'm going to compensate for my lost vacation." Oversea travellers used to face a 21-day hotel quarantine - among the world’s longest- after they arrived in Hong Kong. The policy was in place for more than a year until this February. The quarantine period was once shortened to “3+4” days on August 12, for which visitors were required …


Hong Kong's air quality hits yearly low

With Hong Kong's air a faint yellow haze for the last two weeks, the Environmental Protection Department reported that the city's Air Quality Health Index reached "serious" level four times in the past two weeks, a first for this year. The AQHI warning system was launched in 2013 to alert the public to potentially dangerous levels of four air pollutants: ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter. Anything over a 10 on the AQHI scale is classified “serious”. "The major cause for the pollution of this time is the rising concentration of ozone pollutants trapped in the air," said Gao Meng, an Assistant Professor specializing in air quality modeling and climate change at Hong Kong Baptist University. He described the problem as a "long-lasting issue" for Hong Kong in autumn each year when ozone pollutants climb to their peak as the dry season begins. "This year's polluted weather came a little bit earlier than before," Gao added. "It is because the tropical storm Ma-on hit the city in late August, bringing a dry autumn with more sunshine.” On "serious" days, the EDP says people should minimize outdoor physical exertion and avoid staying outdoors, especially in areas with heavy traffic. Employers of outdoor workers are advised to assess the risk of outdoor work and take appropriate preventive measures to protect the employees' health. "My sore throat has been more and more serious recently because of the air pollution," Hauky Han, a student at Hong Kong Baptist University, said. "I feel like something is stuck in my throat, and I never felt this situation in Hong Kong before." "It is essential for the public, especially people who are vulnerable to certain air pollutants, including children and the elderly, to take a good job of protection amid such days, " Gao said. …


A Tale of Two Hotels: Food quality varies wildly between Hong Kong’s budget and luxury quarantine hotels

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Tracy LeungEdited by: AMALVY Esten Carr Claude Ole Eriksen
  • 2022-07-29

Hong Kong’s government-designated quarantine hotels are required to provide three meals a day to guests. But many staying in the least expensive hotels have been horrified by what they are served, while those that can afford it, order delivery or stay in more expensive hotels, often double or triple the price. “Can’t believe this is called a hotel. Motels overseas are much better than this, even Airbnb. The food tastes bad and there is even no chair for eating. I feel helpless,” said Fanny Chan, a guest at the Ramada Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel in Sai Ying Pun on quarantine day 16. Ms Chan said she paid HK$12,390 for 21 nights. Ms Chan reported that after a week, she had developed an allergic skin reaction due to the dirty state of the room and poor quality of the food she was offered. The hotel did not provide any help for her, she said.  The Ramada hotel has yet to comment. “Healthy food includes grains, dairy such as milk and soya milk, vegetables, fruit and meat or alternatives like nuts and canned fish,” Director of the Hong Kong Community Dietitian Association, Bonnie Leung said. “It is highly recommended for people with special needs to notify hotels about their history of allergy when they first move in,” Ms Leung said. Nicholas White and Edith White stayed at the Sheraton Hong Kong & Tower in Tsim Sha Tsui in September for 21 nights. They paid HK$36,330 for a room with a city view, nearly double the cost of Ms Chan’s room. “We were fully aware of how difficult a 21-day quarantine stay would be so prepared to pay a bit more for a decent sized room with reasonably good food,”  said Mr White.  “Frankly speaking, most dishes are not bad compared to …

Health & Environment

Online fitness in China soars

  • By: Kate ZhangEdited by: Kate Zhang
  • 2022-07-27

"Goodbye fat, hello muscles! Say it out loud with me!" Liu Genghong gives instructions to Li Yuxi, a 25-year-old bank clerk in Shanghai, as she does aerobics to the beat of the music on her phone. Every day, Li opens Douyin, a Chinese short video platform, to follow Liu, her star personal trainer, to exercise at home. Liu is a Taiwanese singer, actor and personal fitness trainer, but his experience in show business has not made him famous. Now, he has attracted viewers from all over the country with his live broadcasts on social media. After Shanghai was locked down due to Covid in March, Liu, 49, and his wife Vivi Wang, Miss Universe Taiwan in 1999, live-streamed fitness five times a week for a 90-minute session each time. The couple taught the audience to do aerobics to the fast-paced tunes of pop star Jay Chou, and one of his most-watched fitness routines were set to Herbalist Manual from Chou's album. Most of the movements are simple, including Liu’s signature shuttlecock movement, which mimics the action of kicking a shuttlecock, a traditional Chinese folk game called jianzi. Liu's fitness classes have been so popular that they have broken Douyin's live streaming record so far in 2022, according to data analytics platform Chanmama. His live broadcast has accumulated over 100 million viewers within 30 days, with a maximum of 44.76 million viewers for a single live broadcast. Liu's Douyin account grew by more than 50 million followers in April. By July 19, he had amassed 73.2 million followers and got more than 120 million likes. "I worked out every day with Coach Liu, and after a few weeks of dancing, I saw the changes in my body," Li said. "I lost three kilograms of weight, while I became very relaxed after …