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The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is arranging a chartered flight to bring Hong Kong residents quarantined on a cruise ship in Japan back home free of charge. The Security Bureau today said the flight will proceed as soon as residents are permitted to disembark the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama. Once Japanese authorities have confirmed the detailed arrangements, the Hong Kong SAR Government will inform the affected passengers of their return date and related details. Given the potential risk to public health, those returning will be placed under quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in Hong Kong. Immigration officers are concurrently notifying passengers concerned of their arrangements via text messages. The Immigration Department and the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, Tokyo have been maintaining close contact with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the HKSAR, the Chinese Embassy in Japan, and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to keep abreast of updated conditions of Hong Kong residents quarantined on the cruise ship. The SAR Government will continue to urge the Japanese side to confirm the passengers’ disembarkation details as soon as possible. According to the cruise operator, there are around 330 Hong Kong residents on board, including 260 SAR passport holders and around 70 holding foreign passports.
Customs today clarified that it did not cause a backlog of imported face masks. It made the statement to dismiss recent rumours that a backlog of face masks sent via air parcels has occurred at the department. Customs said the rumours are totally fabricated and unfounded. Its operations at the Air Mail Centre remain normal and sufficient manpower and inspection equipment are in place to conduct customs clearance, it said. Customs pointed out that it has not caused an imported cargo backlog, adding that customs clearance has not delayed air-mail and postal delivery. The department said it will continue to fully collaborate with Hongkong Post in handling mail items at the Air Mail Centre.
(To watch the video with sign language interpretation, click here.) Secretary for Security John Lee today said the Government has sent four immigration officers to help Hong Kong residents quarantined for the novel coronavirus on a cruise ship in Japan and to liaise with authorities there. During a press conference with the Chief Executive and other principal officials, Mr Lee said the immigration officers together with officers from the economic and trade office in Japan and Chinese embassy officials have been keeping in contact with the Hong Kong citizens.  He added that the Hong Kong SAR Government had indicated to Japanese authorities to consider allowing the Hong Kong residents to be quarantined on land and for them to be tested for the virus as soon as possible. “We learnt that Japanese authorities will be conducting tests by selecting people, as the first batch, who are over 70 years old together with symptoms such as fever.  “Those who test positive will be sent to hospital for treatment. Those who test negative, they will be given a choice to either do the quarantine onboard the ship or on land. We understand that there is one Hong Kong lady over 80 who will be in the first batch of testing.” Mr Lee also noted that the Security Bureau has set up a working group to look at how the Hong Kong passengers can return home as soon as possible.  Officials in the working group include officers from the Security Bureau, Immigration Department, the Food & Health Bureau, Health Department and various government departments which are experienced in arranging transport and offering assistance. “What we are doing is liaising closely with Japanese authorities so as to get first-hand information as quickly as possible.  “Some questions we want to get answers from Japanese authorities include how soon will these Hong Kong people be allowed to disembark, how soon they will be allowed to leave Japan for Hong Kong, whether they will be allowed to disembark in groups, how big each group will be, how many days it may take.” Mr Lee added the immigration officers have provided around 50 Hong Kong people on board with the medicine they need, while about 17 or 18 people have received the required medicine through the cruise.
Police today rejected a report by an online magazine titled “Police and triads appear on the same occasion”, which alleged that police officers attended a banquet at a restaurant in Hung Hom with lawbreakers.  In a statement, Police noted that the report distorted the facts. It said the banquet referred to in the report was a private dinner which was held after office hours at the officers’ own expense. It did not involve official duties and public funds and the officers were not required to report for duty after the dinner.   The officers attending the event that night did not know the identities of other customers in the restaurant and did not have any contact or communication with the customers in the other rooms. The force expressed deep regret over the report which intentionally gave the perception that the event was related to lawbreakers.   It said the groundless accusations are ill-willed and sensationalised with intentions to smear Police.   The statement also said the force always stands against triads and they have a full-fledged strategy to combat triads, plan undercover operations from time to time, as well as proactively block triads' income source and criminal proceeds. Police severely condemn the online magazine's irresponsible and unfounded report.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is providing assistance to Hong Kong residents quarantined for the novel coronavirus on a cruise in Japan. The Immigration Department said today there are 260 Hong Kong residents on board the cruise. Among them, three are confirmed to have been infected with the novel coronavirus and are receiving medical treatment at a local hospital. The remaining residents have been placed under quarantine for 14 days on board the ship since February 5. The Immigration Department has received requests for assistance from the Hong Kong residents on board who have asked for an early return and medication. The department has promptly reflected the situation and requests of the Hong Kong residents to the cruise company and duty doctor. It has also requested the authorities concerned in Japan to provide medication and assistance. The department has also liaised with the Hospital Authority and the Department of Health in Hong Kong to understand the latest situation. Some affected Hong Kong residents have been issued with the required medication while others will receive it later. Immigration officers will be deployed to Japan to liaise with the relevant parties to ensure the Hong Kong residents obtain assistance. Together with the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, Tokyo, the Immigration Department will look into the return arrangements of those Hong Kong residents after their quarantine is completed on February 19, to provide further assistance. They will render suitable and practicable assistance according to the wishes of the Hong Kong residents. Hong Kong residents travelling abroad who need assistance may call the Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit's 24-hour hotline at (852) 1868.
The Government said the implementation of a 14-day compulsory quarantine on people entering Hong Kong from the Mainland starting February 8 has been generally smooth. It said cross-boundary people flow reduced significantly as expected and that the requirement for people issued with quarantine orders to stay at home will help reduce the spread of the virus in the community. There were altogether 468 people, including 411 Hong Kong residents and 57 non-residents, being subject to compulsory quarantine yesterday. Among them, 459 conducted quarantine at homes or hotels while nine others were at accommodations provided by the Government. From the measure’s implementation till 7pm today, a total of 918 people, including 814 Hong Kong residents and 104 non-residents, were subject to compulsory quarantine, with only 12 arranged to reside at government facilities. The Government stressed that self-discipline and community solidarity in fighting against the disease are of utmost importance to the compulsory quarantine’s implementation, adding that it will ensure that people under compulsory quarantine are staying at home by conducting spot checks and making telephone calls. Most of the people under compulsory quarantine have co-operated with working staff to confirm that they are staying at their dwelling places through mobile phone communication applications’ real-time location sharing function. The Government will keep monitoring and adjusting the monitoring methods having regard to the number of people requiring quarantine and whether they co-operate with the authorities. About 130 calls for assistance or enquiries have been made to the 37 hotlines set up by the Home Affairs Department and district offices, while the Social Welfare Department assisted 16 people from 10 families yesterday. The Government stressed that the new measures have not affected freight services to Hong Kong, with more than 1,900 goods vehicle trips arriving yesterday, and there is no need for people to worry about the supply of food and daily necessity goods. Cross-boundary passenger flow has been substantially reduced as expected, with the total arrivals yesterday at 23,399, a decrease of 76% when compared to the previous day’s figure. Most of them were Hong Kong residents returning from overseas and international visitors by air. Yesterday, 1,430 passengers arrived via the two operating land-based control points, Shenzhen Bay and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, a drop of 98% from the previous day and mostly being passengers from Macau to Hong Kong. As at 7pm, 14,763 people arrived via the Hong Kong International Airport, 270 via Shenzhen Bay and 810 via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. The Government said the compulsory quarantine’s smooth implementation and the substantially reduced cross-boundary passenger flow can help reduce the spread of the disease in the community. However, it is also crucial for the public to be aware of social distancing. Noting that the coming two weeks are critical, the Government appeals to people to stay united to win the battle against the disease. In particular, people should stay at home as much as possible and refrain from going to crowded places and pay attention to personal hygiene.
(To watch the video with sign language interpretation, click here.) The Government today said arrival figures to Hong Kong decreased significantly since services at several boundary control points were suspended. Secretary for Security John Lee shared the decline in figures during today’s press conference. He said the Government introduced measures starting on January 30 to suspend the service of six control points, and thereafter, on February 4, another four control points. “We can see the arrival figures have been dropping. And on February 5, the total number of people arriving in Hong Kong was 58,800 roughly. That is a drop of 75% compared with the figure before the introduction of the measures. “For Hong Kong people arriving, the figure is a drop of 77%, Mainland visitors is a drop of 68%, and other visitors is a drop of 50%.” Mr Lee explained why yesterday was the single day the Government witnessed an increase in arrival numbers since the introduction of the measures. “It is not unexpected because tomorrow we will be implementing the mandatory quarantine for 14 days. And it is understandable that a lot of people either left Hong Kong, left the Mainland to come back to Hong Kong, or they travelled across to sort out some of the businesses for their own arrangement. “The key really is on risk management in regard to all of these human movements across the boundary.”
Police have so far received 109 reports of fraudulent claims in which victims lost contact with self-proclaimed surgical mask sellers after making pre-payments for the purchase. Since late January, there have been scammers making claims through online shopping platforms that they have surgical masks for sale, taking advantage of the tight supply. The 109 reports received as of yesterday involved a monetary loss of about $580,000. Six men and two women were arrested in connection with the deceptions.     The Cyber Security & Technology Crime Bureau is co-ordinating various police districts in devising strategies to combat the scams, such as enhancing intelligence gathering and cyber patrols. Police noted that should the evidence warrant, timely law enforcement action will be taken, adding that active investigations are underway and further arrests are likely.    Those who have fallen victim to such scams should report to Police as soon as possible. Members of the public are advised to find out more about the seller's credibility and verify their identity before conducting online transactions. If in doubt, stop the transaction and call the Anti-Scam Helpline 18222.
Customs has sent 20 surgical mask samples to the Government Laboratory for testing and found that all of them comply with safety requirements and there were no violations of the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance. The department launched a large-scale citywide special operation on January 27 to conduct spot checks, test purchases and inspections in various districts on surgical masks available on the market. As of yesterday, customs conducted more than 6,000 inspections at retail spots selling surgical masks and more than 50 samples have been test-purchased. Safety tests on total fungal counts for 20 test-purchased samples have been conducted initially. The remaining samples are still undergoing safety tests and the results will be announced as soon as possible. Customs will continue to inspect surgical mask retail locations and conduct test-buy operations to ensure that masks being sold comply with the Trade Descriptions Ordinance and the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance. Law enforcement action will be taken immediately if any violation is detected. The public can report suspected violations by calling 2545 6182 or by emailing
The Fire Services Department today announced that starting from February 3, its fire protection units will provide basic and limited public services. The arrangement was made in light of the extension of special work arrangements for government departments and the latest development of the novel coronavirus infection. These basic services include applications for various licences, dangerous goods vehicle inspections, fire service installations acceptance inspections of new buildings and compliance inspections of ventilating systems, processing of building plans, handling of matters relating to building fire safety improvement works and others. Meanwhile, the Shroff Office and Receipt & Dispatch Counter of the Licensing & Certification Command Headquarters and the Receipt & Dispatch Counter of the Fire Safety Command Headquarters will also provide basic services during office hours. For enquiries regarding licensing matters, call 2733 7619 during office hours. Regarding matters relating to the processing of building plans, building fire safety improvement works, call 2170 9665. For complaints regarding fire hazards or dangerous goods, call 2723 8787.