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Secretary for Security John Lee today visited Yiu On Estate in Ma On Shan to give out anti-epidemic packs to elderly residents. He reminded them to maintain good personal hygiene and stay vigilant against the spread of disease. The anti-epidemic packs contained surgical masks, alcohol-based hand rub and other daily necessities. He chatted with the seniors to better understand the epidemic’s impact on their daily life, wishing them good health and conveying the Government’s warmest regards. To win the fight against the epidemic, Mr Lee appealed to the public to act in concert by joining hands with the Government to prevent and control the disease.
A funeral with full honours was held today for customs officer Wong Cheuk-bond. Chief Executive Carrie Lam together with senior government officials including Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung, Financial Secretary Paul Chan and Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng attended the funeral. After a ceremony at the Universal Funeral Parlour in Hung Hom, the cortege travelled to the Customs Marine Base on Stonecutters Island, then on to Gallant Garden in Wo Hop Shek for the burial service. The officer's casket was draped in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region flag. Mr Wong and two of his colleagues passed away while carrying out duties in waters off Sha Chau on January 21.
(To watch the video with sign language interpretation, click here.) The Government today issued the Red Outbound Travel Alert on Korea due to the health risks arising from the COVID-19 outbreak there. It noted that due to the persistent and rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Korea and the close contacts between Hong Kong and Korea, the Government decided to issue the red alert based on public health considerations. Secretary for Security John Lee told a press briefing this evening that issuing the red alert was for the benefit of Hong Kong people who had travelled to Korea and those planning to go there. “This is to let Hong Kong people think really carefully about whether the visit to Korea is avoidable. Try not to go unless it is really necessary. That will reduce, first of all, the number of Hong Kong people who may be returning to Hong Kong after visiting Korea. That will reduce the number of people who need to be examined carefully at the airport. "And this measure is for the benefit of people who are planning to visit Korea and also for Hong Kong people at large because they will be in some way interacting with the people who have visited Korea.” Mr Lee also pointed out that the Government’s 14-day mandatory quarantine on all people entering Hong Kong from the Mainland would extend to those coming in from Korea. “The Immigration Department will examine visitors who arrive in Hong Kong since the new quarantine order, i.e. to ascertain whether the visitors have ever been to the Mainland within the last 14 days. So that examination has taken place. And now, we will extend that examination to cover whether the visitor has been to Korea in the last 14 days.” He also reminded the public that providing false information to health officers is a criminal offence. “It is a very serious offence and I wish to reiterate that the measures that we are introducing are for the benefit of the visitors themselves and also for the benefit of Hong Kong people at large. So, understand the consequences and appreciate the need for introducing the measures.”
The third chartered flight arranged by the Government to bring back Hong Kong residents who were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship arrived in Hong Kong today. There were five Hong Kong residents on the flight. All of them were transferred to the quarantine centre at Chun Yeung Estate for the 14-day quarantine observation. Together with the 188 Hong Kong residents who returned via the last two chartered flights, the three government-chartered flights brought a total of 193 Hong Kong residents home. Director of Immigration Erick Tsang, who is in charge of the repatriation operation, Under Secretary for Security Sonny Au and most members of the task force, including officers of the Security Bureau, the Immigration Department, Department of Health and the Hospital Authority also took the flight home. As of yesterday, there were a total of 634 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise, of which 68 were Hong Kong residents. They are under treatment in Japan.  Japanese authorities on February 22 arranged all passengers who are close contacts of confirmed cases, including about 30 Hong Kong residents, to continue their quarantine at land-based quarantine facilities for 14 days counting from the day of the last contact with the confirmed cases. The Government is proactively following up on feasible options to bring those who have tested negative for COVID-19, are asymptomatic and fit for travelling back to Hong Kong. Several Immigration Department officers are staying in Japan to assist those who are receiving medical treatment. The department will send another 10 officers there to visit the patients and help their close contacts.
The second chartered flight arranged by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to bring back Hong Kong residents onboard the Diamond Princess cruise arrived in Hong Kong today. The chartered flight arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport at about 1.40am. There were 82 Hong Kong residents and two Macau residents on the flight. Before the passengers got off the aircraft, Department of Health medical officers explained the quarantine arrangement to them and checked their body temperatures.  While the Hong Kong residents were transferred by coaches to the quarantine centre at Chun Yeung Estate for quarantine observation for 14 days, two Macau residents returned to Macau via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge by a coach arranged by the Macao Special Administrative Region Government. Up to February 21, there were a total of 634 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among passengers onboard the Diamond Princess cruise, of which 66 were Hong Kong residents. They are under treatment in Japan. Regarding the close contacts of confirmed cases, the department has developed a protocol on disease prevention and risk management measures for bringing them back to Hong Kong by a chartered flight. Those concerned must be tested negative for COVID-19 and be fit for travelling. Immigration Department officers will stay in Japan to provide assistance to Hong Kong residents who are staying or receiving medical treatment there.
The first batch of 663 people finished their 14-day compulsory quarantine today, the Department of Health announced. None of the people who completed the quarantine became confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the quarantine period. During the period, the Government has various measures in place to monitor whether those under quarantine are complying with the quarantine order. While officers from disciplinary forces have assisted in spot checks, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer has made use of a location-sharing function of communication software and electronic wristbands to ensure that quarantined people are staying at their dwelling places. The Centre for Health Protection has set up a hotline to provide health information and answer enquiries. The Home Affairs Department has also set up a hotline and made referrals to the Social Welfare Department for providing assistance when necessary. According to the Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong Regulation, except for exempted people, those who have stayed in the Mainland for any period during the 14 days preceding arrival in Hong Kong, regardless of nationality and travel documents used, are subject to compulsory quarantine for 14 days. Contravening the compulsory quarantine requirement is a criminal offence. Offenders are subject to a maximum fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for six months.
Secretary for Security John Lee today announced the third chartered flight will bring back Hong Kong residents from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who are not close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Speaking to reporters in the afternoon, Mr Lee said the government-arranged flight will depart Japan at 1.45am on February 23. He said: “Our intention is to take back any Hong Kong people who are allowed to leave the ship and also leave Japan if they are not close contacts so that they can all be taken back to Hong Kong. “The information so far indicates that there will likely be around 100 people still in Japan. Onboard the ship there are 32 close contacts, and there are several tens of people who are not close contacts and will be allowed to disembark the ship. “We are appealing to all Hong Kong residents who are still in Japan to take our chartered flight.” Mr Lee added that he does not expect this chartered flight to take back as many people as the first and second flights. “Despite the possibility of this third chartered flight not taking back a large number of people, we will not give up any chance to take back the Hong Kong people who are not close contacts and who can leave Japan.”
Customs today seized a total of 174 bottles of disinfectant alcohol with a false description of its composition. The department had earlier received information alleging that a pharmacy in Tuen Mun was selling this disinfectant alcohol. Customs officers then bought a disinfectant alcohol that was labelled as "75% ethanol" at the pharmacy. The disinfectant alcohol was being sold in white plastic bottles labelled as 1 litre and sold at a price of $98 per bottle. Samples were sent to the Government Laboratory and the test results revealed that it consisted of less than 0.1% of ethanol while its methanol content reached 52%. The results also showed the actual volume of the bottle to be only 737 milliliters. The disinfectant alcohol's composition was different from the product's description, in contravention of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance. Customs officers today searched a pharmacy group's office in Tuen Mun and its 20 branches located at various districts, where the 174 bottles of disinfectant alcohol were seized. A director and six sales staff of the pharmacy, aged 24 to 43, were arrested. The department noted methanol is a type of organic solvent which is harmful to the human body and might cause blindness or even death if accidentally eaten or misused. It appealed to members of the public to stop using that type of disinfectant alcohol and for traders to remove the products from shop shelves as well. Customs officers also checked 236 retail spots in various districts and no such products were found for sale.
A total of 106 Hong Kong residents from the Diamond Princess cruise ship arrived safely in Hong Kong from Tokyo this morning on a chartered flight arranged by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. The first batch of evacuees includes six people who were permitted to leave Japan after they completed quarantine at a facility in Saitama Prefecture. Department of Health’s port health officers briefed them about quarantine arrangements and checked their body temperature before they deplaned. All passengers were taken to the quarantine centre in Chun Yeung Estate by pre-arranged coaches to undergo 14-day quarantine observation. The Hong Kong SAR Government explained that people who have been arranged to stay at quarantine centres, including passengers returning from Japan, have no coronavirus symptoms and are neither confirmed nor suspected infected patients. The quarantine centre will operate on the mode of independent accommodation with security and healthcare staff on duty around the clock. Transport services to and from the centre will be provided to people under quarantine who cannot leave and move around in the community without a health officer's written permission. A total of 364 Hong Kong residents were originally on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, including 260 HKSAR passport holders and around 100 foreign passport holders. As of February 19, a total of 55 Hong Kong residents from the ship were confirmed as being infected with the novel coronavirus and must stay in Japan for medical treatment. Another 33, who are close contacts of the confirmed cases, have been put under quarantine for an extended period and are unable to return to Hong Kong for the time being. Immigration officers will stay in Japan to provide assistance to these Hong Kong residents. A task force of the SAR Government will continue to maintain close liaison with Japanese authorities and the cruise operator, and will confirm the list of remaining Hong Kong residents and their test results. They aim to evacuate all Hong Kong residents permitted to leave the cruise ship today. A third chartered flight will be arranged for those remaining tomorrow. Any individual who chooses not to take the chartered flight will be referred to the Port Health Division for assessment immediately upon returning to Hong Kong and will still be subject to a maximum of 14 days' quarantine. The SAR Government expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Chinese Embassy in Japan and the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the HKSAR for their assistance and liaison work with the Japanese government. It also thanked the Japanese authority's active facilitation that enabled this mission to take place smoothly.
Secretary for Security John Lee today said the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is mulling over the need to prepare for a third chartered flight to evacuate Hong Kong residents aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. Speaking to the media at the Legislative Council this morning, Mr Lee said the Immigration Department has contacted all 352 Hong Kong residents on the cruise ship and more than 200 have indicated that they will take the chartered flights arranged by the Hong Kong SAR Government to return home. He noted that Japanese authorities will start allowing passengers to disembark today, once they have tested negative for the novel coronavirus. He explained that about 20 Hong Kong passengers should have tested negative for the virus so far. “We are pressing for more results today. So hopefully, the number of Hong Kong people who are confirmed to be negative will increase and we are pressing the Japanese authorities to allow them all to come down.” Mr Lee asserted that the SAR Government has urged Japanese authorities to first deal with the Hong Kong passengers. “We have been pressing the Japanese authorities to give priority to the treatment of Hong Kong residents. “Our aim is to allow all Hong Kong residents to be allowed to disembark today, so that they will all be sent back to Hong Kong as soon as possible.” The security chief said the SAR Government has requested even more information but Japanese authorities have failed to respond. “For example, how many Hong Kong residents have tested positive and how many negative? How many are regarded as close contacts who may have to continue to stay in Japan? How many, if they are required to be quarantined, will be quarantined on the ship or on land? And we have asked the Japanese authorities to allow Hong Kong residents, even if they stay to be quarantined, then that should be done on land.” The SAR Government will ask the Consulate-General of Japan in Hong Kong to provide assistance, Mr Lee added. “I will be in touch with the Consulate-General of Japan in Hong Kong to reflect the concerns of the stranded Hong Kong residents on the cruise and to explain that because we have a large number, so it is in everybody's interest that priority is given to Hong Kong residents, so that they can come back as early as possible.”