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Secretary for Security John Lee today said he respects the court decision on the Junior Police Officers' Association's appeal to ban the disclosure of voters' details, adding that society should face the issue of doxxing seriously, as it could affect anyone. Mr Lee made the remarks to reporters who had asked about the court’s dismissal of the association's application yesterday to bar election authorities from publicly disclosing voters' personal details. “The problem of revealing people's personal particulars without consent, especially when there may be evil motives, such as trying to intimidate a particular person so as not to say something or do something, I think society should face this issue seriously because it can affect every one of us, whatever your background is, whatever your political stand is.” Mr Lee said that as far as he understood, the Privacy Commissioner has been examining how the relevant issues can be tackled in a more effective way, such as whether there is any need for new legislative powers for the commissioner to carry out his duties more effectively. “What is also important is that the public should know that without a person's consent; if somebody exposes a person's personal particulars with intent of causing that person harm or making himself some gains, that is a criminal offence liable to a five-year imprisonment.” Regarding suggestions that some defendants facing charges related to the anti-extradition protests were attacked by Police during their arrest and detention in police stations, the security chief said each of these cases will be investigated by the Complaints Against Police Office thoroughly and impartially. The investigation result will be reported to the Independent Police Complaints Council, he said, and that time should be given to probe the complaints. Mr Lee added that it is important for the those who made the allegations to come out to state their case, adding that there have been a lot of allegations made by many people who never come up to give their side of the case to Police.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government announced today that the Chinese Embassy in Morocco will charter a flight to bring home Chinese citizens stranded in the country, including 27 Hong Kong residents. The chartered flight is scheduled to depart from Casablanca at 4pm on April 9 local time (11pm the same day Hong Kong time) to arrive in Guangzhou by noon on April 10. The cost will be borne by the passengers. Morocco has been in a state of national emergency since early March, imposing strict restrictions on all marine, land and air traffic. As a result, Hong Kong residents in Morocco cannot leave there on their own through normal flight arrangements. As at noon today, the Immigration Department has received assistance requests from 158 Hong Kong residents concerning home passage from Morocco, and 113 have already returned to Hong Kong on different flights. The 45 Hong Kong people who are still in the country are scattered in Casablanca, Marrakesh and six other cities. Eighteen of them will not take the chartered flight out of the country because of personal preference or other reasons. The Hong Kong SAR Government will actively follow up with the Chinese Embassy in Morocco and a number of airlines to assist Hong Kong people to return via other possible means. Under the Mainland's enhanced in-bound health management, all air passengers are required to undergo local 14-day isolation for medical surveillance, which is also applicable to passengers on board the chartered flight to Guangzhou.
The Department of Health will strengthen health quarantine and COVID-19 testing arrangements for all inbound travellers from April 8. Under the Prevention & Control of Disease Regulation, all asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving at Hong Kong International Airport will be required to have their deep throat saliva samples taken at the Temporary Specimen Collection Centre at AsiaWorld-Expo for COVID-19 testing. After their samples have been collected, they will have to go to their accommodation for compulsory quarantine as soon as possible by their own means. Taking reference from the testing arrangements for Peru returnees by chartered flights, the department said that letting travellers from places with higher risk wait for test results at the Specimen Collection Centre can efficiently identify patients with the virus and help in arranging their close contacts to be sent to quarantine centres. As 248 of the 359 imported cases recorded in the past 14 days involved people who had been to the UK, the department has decided to adopt this testing arrangement for inbound travellers from the country starting April 9. Starting April 8, the Enhanced Laboratory Surveillance Programme will also be further extended to inbound travellers who have been to Hubei Province in the past 14 days arriving through Shenzhen Bay Port and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Port. These travellers are required to collect their deep throat saliva samples by themselves when undergoing compulsory home quarantine, and to have their family members or friends deliver it to collection points.
The total number of reported drug abusers in Hong Kong fell 17% year-on-year in 2019, the Action Committee Against Narcotics announced today. According to Central Registry of Drug Abuse figures, the number of reported drug abusers under the aged of 21 slightly increased by 1%. The figures also showed that the number of reported cannabis abusers rose 5% year-on-year. For drug abusers aged under 21, cannabis was the most common type of psychotropic substance abused, with the number of reported abusers increasing 48%. Heroin remained the most commonly abused drug, while methamphetamine was still the most common psychotropic substance abused. Committee Chairman Dr Ben Cheung noted: "Although the total number of reported drug abusers in 2019 decreased compared with that of 2018, the number of cannabis abusers, especially young abusers aged under 21, continued to increase and is a matter of concern." Commissioner for Narcotics Ivy Law said the Government will continue to strengthen publicity work to provide correct information on the harms of cannabis abuse since some overseas jurisdictions have legalised recreational use of the drug in recent years.
The Government today announced that it will extend the entry restriction on non-Hong Kong residents and quarantine and airport transit measures until further notice, in light of the COVID-19 infection. The measures took effect at midnight on March 25 and were set to be implemented tentatively for 14 days, ending April 7. All non-Hong Kong residents coming from overseas countries and regions by plane will be denied entry to Hong Kong; while non-Hong Kong residents coming from the Mainland, Macau and Taiwan will be denied entry if they have been to any overseas countries and regions in the past 14 days. In addition, all transit services at Hong Kong International Airport will be suspended; and all travellers coming from Macau and Taiwan, including Hong Kong and non-Hong Kong residents, will be subject to a 14-day compulsory quarantine, which is the same as the arrangements for people arriving from the Mainland. At present, the COVID-19 pandemic remains severe around the globe. As of this morning, the number of cases reported globally had exceeded 1.18 million. In Hong Kong, the number of cases as at 4pm today had reached 915, including one probable case, more than double the number of cases reported a fortnight ago. Over the past two weeks, around 75% of the confirmed cases either had a travel history during the incubation period or were close contacts. In view of the latest situation, the Government has decided to extend the above-mentioned entry restriction and airport transit service suspension until further notice. The exemptions granted to a small number of people in implementing the entry restriction measures remain applicable. On April 5, there were only 813 passenger arrivals via the airport, a drop of nearly 82% compared with March 24, before the measures were in place. Among them, only seven arrivals were non-Hong Kong residents.
The Government today urged people to continue to support temporary measures implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community, after Police issued fixed penalty tickets to six people who gathered and played chess in public places over the weekend. The Secretary for Food & Health issued a number of directions according to two regulations that took effect from March 28 and 29 respectively, including the latest one which requires bars and pubs to close for 14 days starting April 3. One of the new laws regulates the catering sector’s business and operations and 12 categories of premises with a relatively high risk of spreading the virus (scheduled premises), while the other prohibits group gatherings of more than four people in public places. The Government said maintaining social distancing is key to delaying the spread of COVID-19 in Hong Kong. The enforcement departments have enhanced manpower to step up patrols in various public places, and remind the relevant premises’ operators and the public to comply with the new requirements by verbal explanation, advice or warning. Fixed penalty tickets were also issued. From midnight on April 4 to midnight on April 6, Police responded to a 999 complaint and issued fixed penalty tickets to six people who gathered and played chess in public places. In addition, enforcement departments have conducted 4,114 inspections and given 905 verbal warnings according to the regulations over the same period. According to the directions related to catering premises, the Food & Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) carried out 4,587 inspections and gave 175 verbal warnings. The Department of Health (DH) conducted 40 inspections with two verbal warnings given, while Police made 562 inspections and issued 44 verbal warnings. The Home Affairs Department (HAD) also conducted 27 inspections. As for the directions related to scheduled premises, the FEHD, the Leisure & Cultural Services Department, HAD and Police carried out 54, 46, 27 and 28 inspections at such premises under their purview. The Government strongly urges people to avoid going to premises which may pose a relatively high risk of infection. The relevant sectors should make adjustments for the sake of public health, lowering the risk of infection to customers.
The Centre for Health Protection today said that the toilet and common facilities in a police station might have been possible routes of COVID-19 virus transmission. The centre’s Communicable Disease Branch Head Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan made the statement at a press briefing this afternoon. On April 4, a police officer who worked in the same station as another officer, who had earlier tested positive for COVID-19, was confirmed to be infected with the virus. Dr Chuang said: “At the present moment, because we can't identify any other risk factors concerning the linkage between the two police officers, that's why we postulate that the toilet and the common facilities on the floor may be the possible routes of transmission. “That's why we will quarantine the staff working on the same floor who used those kinds of facilities.” She also noted that the officers wore masks and did not have very close contact with other people when they were working. “That's why we have not classified other members of the general public as close contacts.”
A total of 65 Hong Kong residents who took chartered flights arranged by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government safely arrived in Hong Kong from Peru today. After they arrived, they went to the Centre for Health Protection’s testing centre at AsiaWorld-Expo for COVID-19 testing and are now awaiting the results. If tested negative, they can return home or proceed to a designated place to undergo the 14-day compulsory quarantine. Peru declared a state of national emergency mid-March, imposing very strict restrictions on all land and air traffic. Afterwards, the Immigration Department received 98 requests for assistance from Hong Kong residents stranded there. With the assistance of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (OCMFA) and the Chinese Embassy in the Republic of Peru, 65 of them took the chartered flight arranged by the Hong Kong SAR Government from Lima to London, followed by an ordinary connecting flight to Hong Kong. Among the people who sought assistance, one of them passed away in Peru earlier from COVID-19 and 13 have left the country through other arrangements. The remaining ones have not taken the chartered flights to leave Peru on personal preference or because they have been quarantined. Currently, at least four Hong Kong residents are required to stay in Peru for quarantine and undergo COVID-19 testing. The SAR Government will continue to follow up with the OCMFA and the Chinese Embassy in Peru to provide assistance to affected residents.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung visited Police Headquarters today to learn about the force’s work in the enforcement of compulsory quarantine. Mr Cheung received a briefing on how Police have used the Major Incident Investigation & Disaster Support System to provide support and assistance to the Centre for Health Protection regarding its epidemiological investigations and contact tracing for confirmed cases. He also met frontline staff responsible for analysing the system to learn about their work. "The relevant system is essential in assisting in the tracing of the sources of infection and people who have come into close contact with confirmed cases," Mr Cheung said. The Chief Secretary also learnt that Police have spared no effort in tracking down offenders who have violated compulsory quarantine orders. As of 8am, 80 people under home quarantine had been found by Police to have breached quarantine orders and were sent to quarantine centres. Additionally, Mr Cheung was briefed on Police’s anti-epidemic work on other fronts, such as combatting mask scams and maintaining order in quarantine centres. He added police officers have been standing steadfast at their posts and working with other government departments in the fight against the epidemic.
(To watch the full media session with sign language interpretation, click here.) A further spread of COVID-19, which originated from people who had been to bars, prompted the Government to order the closure of bars and pubs. Secretary for Food & Health Prof Sophia Chan made the statement today when explaining the latest directions under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Requirements & Directions) (Business & Premises) Regulation to reporters. “First of all, we are seeing more and more cases. Secondly, we are also seeing secondary as well as tertiary spread among people who have been to bars.” Prof Chan explained that the Government has already put in place infection control measures to prevent the further spread of the virus. “But then when we see that there are these secondary and also tertiary transmissions, that is, through the contact tracing done by the Centre for Health Protection, it really rang the bell that we cannot allow the transmissions to continue. “If we look at these secondary and tertiary transmissions, it was really in the last two days that the Centre for Health Protection had done the contact tracing. “So that's why we have moved swiftly and decided today that we should close these bars and also pubs.”