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The Social Welfare Department (SWD) today said that an Assistant Social Work Officer of its Information Systems & Technology Branch has tested positive for COVID-19. The officer last worked in the office in Skyline Tower, Kowloon Bay on July 17. So far, no staff working there have developed symptoms or tested positive. Meanwhile, a 48-year-old male police officer posted to Tuen Mun Division preliminarily tested positive for the virus. He last attended work on July 24. Both patients had worn surgical masks when performing their tasks. Cleaning and disinfection of the places involved have been arranged. Police and the SWD are highly concerned about the epidemic and will maintain close contact with the Department of Health to take follow up action as appropriate.
In view of the latest COVID-19 epidemic developments, the deadline for the LawTech Fund application period will be extended to September 6 to allow eligible law firms and chambers more time to prepare their applications. Established under the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund, the LawTech Fund has been open for applications since April to assist small and medium-size law firms and barristers' chambers in procuring and upgrading information technology systems and arranging their staff to attend lawtech training courses. Law firms or chambers which have five or fewer practising lawyers as at April 8 and at the time of granting the subsidy will be eligible for reimbursement for up to $50,000. Around 400 applications have been received so far. The Law Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Bar Association have established a joint committee to process and assess the applications, as well as arrange funding disbursement. The application form and guidance notes are available at the homepages of the Law Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Bar Association. The Government encourages about 700 eligible law firms and chambers in Hong Kong to make use of the subsidy to enhance their technological capabilities so as to keep up with the Judiciary's development in remote hearings and provide legal services to clients amidst social distancing measures.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today said the European Commission’s (EC) concerns about the erosion of the city’s high degree of autonomy and the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong people are totally unfounded. In a statement responding to comments in a Hong Kong report issued by the commission and the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy, the Hong Kong SAR Government said it could not agree with remarks in the report about the implementation of “one country, two systems” in the city. The statement pointed out that matters of the Hong Kong SAR remain China’s internal affairs. No other state has the right to intervene in such internal affairs. The Hong Kong SAR Government stressed that upholding and implementing the “one country, two systems” principle meets Hong Kong people’s interests, responds to the needs of maintaining Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability and serves the nation’s fundamental interests. The Central People’s Government has time and again made it clear that it will unswervingly implement the policy of “one country, two systems”. But this has to be premised on a correct understanding of the relationship between “one country” and “two systems”. First and foremost is to firmly uphold China’s sovereignty, security and development interests. The Hong Kong SAR Government hopes the international community will respect that fundamental principle and should take an objective view on Hong Kong’s development. In recounting events in the past year, the truth is with the pretext of opposing a proposed legislation, which was withdrawn, to enhance Hong Kong’s legal system in respect of cross-jurisdiction co-operation in the return of fugitive offenders and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, Hong Kong - once one of the safest cities in the world - was haunted by rioters. They vandalised shops and traffic facilities, set fires to buildings, attacked police officers and viciously assaulted innocent citizens who held different opinions. Hong Kong’s rule of law is at stake and its citizens’ safety is under threat. The report seemed to focus on companies in Hong Kong faced with increasing political pressure and intervention but omitted the fact that rioters selectively vandalised many companies because of their pro-China or pro-Government opinions. The Hong Kong SAR Government always respects and protects human rights and freedoms. However, rights such as freedom of expression or assembly are not absolute and are not without limit. It reiterated no one is above the law. In the face of these serious illegal acts, Police have the statutory duty to take lawful measures to maintain public order and safety. Police have a set of stringent guidelines on the use of force that are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. In its judgment in April 2020, the Court of Appeal upheld the constitutionality of the Emergency Regulations Ordinance insofar as it empowers the Chief Executive in Council to make emergency regulations on any occasion of public danger. The constitutionality of the prohibition of facial covering in unlawful assemblies and unauthorised assemblies was upheld. The Independent Police Complaints Council, comprising more than 20 members from different sectors, already submitted the Thematic Study Report on the Public Order Events arising from the Fugitive Offenders Bill since June 2019 and the Police Actions in Response to the Chief Executive in May this year. The Chief Executive has accepted all the 52 recommendations in the thematic study report, which are being followed up by the task force set up by the Security Bureau. The statement said the European Commission has also chosen to express some views on the National Security Law recently enacted by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee for the Hong Kong SAR to safeguard national security. This is constitutional, lawful, rational and reasonable as national security falls squarely under the purview of the central authorities and after some 23 years, the Hong Kong SAR has yet to fulfil its constitutional obligations to enact local legislation to safeguard national security. The EC’s report mentioned that some countries or parliaments have introduced measures or acts targeting Hong Kong. These are flagrant violations of international law and could hardly be in the interest of Hong Kong people and the city's bilateral partners. The Hong Kong SAR Government calls on EU member states to adopt a pragmatic and rational attitude, and bear in mind the mutually beneficial relations between the two sides.
Police today said a 36-year-old male officer posted to Traffic, New Territories South has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The officer felt unwell on July 21 and sought medical treatment at a hospital the following day. Preliminary results released on the evening of July 22 showed that he tested positive for the virus. He had no travel history in the past 14 days and last attended work on July 20. He wore masks when coming into contact with the public. Officers that might have come into close contact with the patient have been arranged to work from home and undergo virus tests. Police have deployed staff to clean and disinfect the patient’s quarters as well as his office. The force has also reminded officers to reduce social contact, pay attention to physical health and consult a doctor if they feel unwell. Police will continue to communicate closely with the Department of Health and proactively provide the patient’s recent duty record and roster. Arrangements will also be made for his close contacts to be sent to quarantine centres.
Nine youngsters in custody have obtained level two or above in 30 papers of this year's Diploma of Secondary Education Examination. They are in custody at Pik Uk, Cape Collinson and Lai King correctional institutions. One candidate at Cape Collinson Correctional Institution scored the highest result, with 20 marks overall in the six papers taken, meeting the general entrance requirements for local universities. Another candidate at Pik Uk Correctional Institution, who obtained 23 marks in six subjects but only attained level 2 in English last year, retook English and achieved level 3 in this year's examination, enabling him to meet the entrance requirements for local universities. The exams were based on the four core subjects of Chinese, English, mathematics and liberal studies, along with the two electives of economics and tourism, and hospitality studies. Correctional Services Department Assistant Commissioner (Rehabilitation) Wan Ming-ki encouraged young inmates to seize the chance to study and strive for a better future. He also called on the public to give rehabilitated offenders equal opportunities and support their reintegration in society.
In response to a media report that a lawyer has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19 after visiting people in custody, the Correctional Services Department said today the people concerned are currently asymptomatic. According to the visit records, the lawyer conducted an official visit to two people in custody in Stanley Prison on July 3 and 4 and one in Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre on July 11. The department said it immediately separated the people in custody concerned and placed them under medical surveillance while the facilities concerned were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. It added that in view of the COVID-19 development, the department has enhanced prevention and disinfection measures for official visits since late March. Such measures include checking visitors’ body temperature and requiring all visitors to fill out health declaration forms and wear masks. Other enhancements were made to official visit rooms that include installing transparent plastic partitions to prevent transmission of respiratory droplets and adding two periods of cleaning and disinfection on top of the regular cleaning routine. The department emphasised that it will closely liaise with the Centre for Health Protection and monitor the situation.
The Immigration Department will implement a new arrangement on applications for foreign domestic helper visas to tie in with the Government’s measures of imposing conditions on travellers who visited specified high-risk places within 14 days before arrival in Hong Kong. The specifications to impose conditions based on public health grounds on travellers who have visited Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and South Africa within 14 days before arrival in Hong Kong will come into effect on July 25. With immediate effect, employers applying for a visa for their foreign domestic helpers, including those applications submitted but pending approval or issuance of visas, will be required to sign an undertaking to indicate that they will arrange for a COVID-19 test and hotel quarantine for their foreign domestic helpers, and be responsible for the relevant costs if their helpers are arriving on or after July 25. If employers are found to have breached the undertaking, their foreign domestic helpers may be denied entry into Hong Kong and future applications from those employers for employing a foreign domestic helper may be refused. Employers can download the undertaking online or obtain it from the department’s headquarters and Immigration Branch Offices. Call 2824 6111 for enquiries on foreign domestic helper visa applications or 2157 9537 for enquiries on employment rights and benefits.
The directions under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Requirements & Directions) (Business & Premises) Regulation (Cap 599F) to extend existing social distancing measures were gazetted today. The directions will take effect for seven days from July 22 to 28. The Food & Health Bureau said the detection of quite a number of local cases with unknown sources of infection over a short period of time raises an important alarm, which reminds the community that members of the public must not let down their guard in terms of epidemic prevention and control. Under the latest directions, the number of customers at any catering premises at any one time must not exceed 50% of the premises' normal seating capacity. No more than four people may be seated together at one table within any catering premises. From 6pm to 4.59am of the subsequent day, no selling or supplying of food or drink for consumption on the catering premises is allowed. The premises concerned may sell or supply food and/or drink for takeaway services and deliveries. Bars or pubs must be closed. Live performances and dancing must not be allowed in any catering premises. All karaoke and mahjong-tin kau activities carried on at any catering premises must also be suspended. Twelve categories of scheduled premises including amusement game centres, fitness centres, places of amusement, party rooms, beauty parlours, karaoke and massage establishments are required to suspend operation. The directions issued on July 13 by the Secretary for Food & Health in accordance with Cap 599G and Cap 599I will continue to be effective until July 28. Group gatherings of more than four people in public places will continue to be prohibited. A person will continue to be required to wear a mask at all times when he or she is boarding or on board a public transport carrier, or is entering or present in a Mass Transit Railway paid area.
The Government today announced that a Customs Officer has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The officer works on the 23rd floor of the Customs Headquarters Building in North Point. The floor is not open to the public. He is responsible for logistic duties and last worked on July 16. He felt unwell on the morning of July 17. After seeking medical treatment at a private clinic, he was notified on the night of July 17 to have preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. Isolation treatment in hospital is being arranged for the officer. The officer, who has no recent travel history, has been wearing surgical masks when performing duties and properly maintained social distancing with people he had contact with. His body temperature was normal when undergoing temperature screening during work. Customs has been closely co-operating with the Centre for Health Protection’s epidemiological investigations. Colleagues working with the officer are asymptomatic. The department has liaised with the centre to arrange for those officers to undergo COVID-19 testing. The floor where he works will also undergo thorough cleaning and sterilisation. Customs has stepped up the cleaning and sterilising measures for all working locations and will remind all officers to strictly comply with the centre’s hygienic measures. Its officers will also be reminded to consult a doctor promptly if they have any symptoms of discomfort.
Hong Kong residents born in 1962 or 1963 should apply for a new smart identity card at a Smart Identity Card Replacement Centre from July 28 to September 22, the Immigration Department announced today. Bookings can be made online, on the department’s mobile application or by calling the 24-hour hotline at 2121 1234. The card replacement centres are open Monday to Saturday, 8am to 10pm, except public holidays. Applicants need to bring their existing smart identity cards when they go to the centres. They may take up to two disabled people and two family members or friends aged 65 or above to replace their identity cards together. For citizens born in 1957 to 1961, their identity card replacement period will end on July 27. The department said those who have not applied should do so as early as possible to avoid a last-minute rush. Residents who are absent from Hong Kong during their call-up period can apply within 30 days of their return to the city. Click here or call 2824 6111 for details.