hong kong

Get Used to It: This Lockdown Wont Be the Last   21%

HONG KONG—As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases exploded in China early this year, Hong Kong, densely populated and connected to the mainland, was able to largely contain the virus’s spread. A combination of community response and official action held back the pace of infections, with the number of patients discharged from treatment until recently outpacing those remaining in the hospital. This month, civil servants on work-from-home orders were allowed to return to their office. Soon, private businesses started to do the same. Commuters began to refill the buses and subways. Bars and restaurants left largely vacant for weeks saw patrons remerge. As reports of outbreaks abroad worsened, Hong Kong appeared to be slowly returning to form.

In recent days, this semblance of normalcy has vanished. The number of confirmed cases here has ticked upward at a much quicker pace than before, worrying health experts. The government reversed course on its easing of restrictions, sending workers back home, closing parks and city facilities, and reiterating calls for social distancing. It also introduced newer, more stringent measures, barring tourists and transit passengers from Hong Kong’s airport, one of the world’s busiest, and quarantining those who are allowed in. (A large portion of the recent confirmed cases are imported.) Another cluster of confirmed cases has been linked to bars and live-music venues, so gatherings of more than four people have been deemed illegal for the next two weeks; restaurants will reduce their capacity, and entertainment areas like cinemas and arcades must temporarily close.

[Read: A glimpse of the coronavirus’s possible legacy]

Hong Kong and Singapore were early examples of places that were able to contain the spread of the virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, offering a model of sorts for countries elsewhere to follow (even if most did not take the cue). Yet now, this city is a different kind of model, a glimpse into what awaits the hundreds of millions of people living under restrictions in places such as Britain, France, Italy, and parts of the United States, wondering what life will look like once the virus is brought under control. The tightening and easing, as well as tweaking, of restrictions under way in Hong Kong, an effort to control the ebb and flow of the disease into manageable waves without letting it run rampant, illustrates how one protracted lockdown is unlikely to be sufficient as researchers take part in a global race to create a vaccine for the virus.

This tactic could keep health facilities from being overburdened, a reality now facing medical workers in New York City and parts of Europe, Gabriel Leung, who is one of the world’s experts on coronavirus epidemics and who worked extensively on the SARS outbreak and led Hong Kong’s response to the 2009 influenza pandemic, told me.

“The suppression-and-lift strategy is the most talked about amongst my ilk and in governments all over the world,” said Leung, who is also the dean of medicine at the University of Hong Kong. “You would need to keep on these control measures to varying degrees until one of two things happen: One, is there is natural immunity by active infection and recovery, or there is sufficiently wide availability of an effective vaccine administered to at least half the population, to create the same effective herd immunity. These are the only two ways of going about it.” Leung added that we’ll go through “several cycles” of tightenings and easings “before we will have resolution.”

Leung’s view is echoed in the scientific community. Research published by the COVID-19 Response Team at Imperial College London this month found that “intermittent social distancing—triggered by trends in disease surveillance—may allow interventions to be relaxed temporarily in relative short time windows, but measures will need to be reintroduced if or when case numbers rebound.” Writing for The Atlantic about how to cope with the virus in the United States, Aaron E. Carroll, a pediatrics professor, and Ashish Jha, a global-health professor, suggested a similar approach. “We can keep schools and businesses open as much as possible, closing them quickly when suppression fails, then opening them back up again once the infected are identified and isolated,” they wrote. “Instead of playing defense, we could play more offense.”

The aim of these measures, such as social distancing, is not to bring the number of people infected down to zero, Leung said; “that is not possible.” Rather, they are an effort to protect older people, who have a much higher risk of becoming infected and dying, as well as to keep health-care systems functioning. “No country, no population, no city can be spared from COVID-19,” said Leung, who is advising the Hong Kong government on its response to the virus. “The big question is, how do you make sure that you do not overwhelm societal functions? How do you make sure that your hospital system does not collapse? How do you make sure that there are enough ICU beds and ventilators for those who need them? How do you make sure that you can minimize the morbidity and mortality burden on your population while protecting the economy and the livelihood of the people on a sustainable basis? These are the big questions that any society would have to grapple with and have been grappling with.”

Leung was alerted to the new coronavirus by contacts in mainland China on December 31. His main concern at the time, he said, was the looming Chunyun—China’s spring festival, the largest human migration on the planet—set to begin just over a week later, on January 10. Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, is a major transportation hub for China, a factor that caused particular consternation. As suspected cases began to emerge in countries popular with Chinese tourists, such as Japan and Thailand, Leung and his team were able to use airport, road, and train data to estimate the spread of the virus, telling reporters in Hong Kong on January 21 that the number of infected could be about 1,700 and that the virus had likely spread outside Wuhan across China. At the time, official Chinese figures put the number of cases at about 300. Leung said he received a call from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention the following day, and on January 23 arrived in Beijing with colleagues to assist with the first epidemiological study of the virus, published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

During the World Health Organization’s mission to China the following month, Leung said, he observed a three-pillared approach that was effective in slowing the spread of the virus. The first pillar, which he described as “medieval,” was rigorous quarantine and isolation of patients. This was coupled with a “very, very robust, excellent community organization,” including severe restrictions on social mixing and social mobility that were taking place on a neighborhood level. This was buttressed by extensive use of technology—apps, big data, artificial intelligence—to further track and record peoples’ movements.

[Read: How the pandemic will end]

Yet China, too, is being forced to impose a new wave of restrictions even as parts of life have appeared to return to normal. Beijing, fearing its own raft of imported cases that could reignite domestic spread, is implementing some of the tightest travel restrictions, barring practically all foreigners from entering the country as well as stopping nearly all international passenger flights. Since battling back the virus, authorities in Beijing have attempted to wrangle the narrative of the virus, sowing doubt over its origins amid tensions with the United States. Chinese officials attempted to silence doctors in Wuhan who raised early alarm about a mysterious virus and have cracked down on journalists covering the pandemic. And while China has begun to ease restrictions in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, citing a drop in cases, reporting from various outlets in recent days has cast doubt on the validity of the figures, pointing instead to less testing being carried out, as well as the number of deaths attributed to the virus.

Leung said he couldn’t speculate about what was happening within China during the first weeks of the virus emerging, or about how other governments had handled outbreaks in their respective countries. Since he became involved in the response, Leung said his experience working with Chinese counterparts has been positive. During the WHO trip, Chinese officials were “very open, very transparent, a whole of government approach,” he told me. “Wherever we went, we were asking difficult questions and we were asking for the data, to look at the data and to discuss with their scientists, and they've been nothing but forthcoming.”

“China bought the rest of the world time,” Leung said. “Whether or not it could have brought it under control earlier and quicker is a different question … Whether different countries in the world have actually used that time well, I think it’s for their own people to judge.” As the newly reimposed restrictions in Hong Kong and parts of China illustrate, the West may have more lessons to learn.

Hong Kong music school keeps on trucking through coronavirus shutdown  

When 7-year-old Sophia Cheung hears a truck park outside her home in Hong Kong, she grabs her sheet music and runs out the door.

Coronavirus: Can your dog or cat get Covid-19 and can you catch it from your pet?   22%

A dog in Hong Kong, whose owner was infected, tested 'weak positive' for the virus

Hong Kongs drugs tsar links rising cannabis use among young people with legalisation overseas   2%

Hong Kong’s commissioner for narcotics has attributed a 50 per cent surge in young people using cannabis to possible misconceptions that the drug is not harmful because of legalisation overseas.Despite a 17 per cent reduction last year in the overall number of drug abusers in the city compared with 2018, the tally for cannabis was on the rise, according to the Action Committee Against Narcotics, which advises the government on drugs policy.In 2019, 506 Hongkongers were taking the recreational…

Coronavirus: as Hong Kongs passenger numbers bottom out, daily departures can fit on one plane   -3%

There are now so few people flying out of Hong Kong, the daily total can sometimes fit on a single plane – with room to spare.Average inbound and outbound passenger loads have both fallen to single digit percentages, according to calculations by the Post, despite some of the deepest cuts ever to flight schedules due to the collapse in demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic.On April 2, 349 people boarded a flight to leave Hong Kong. The biggest plane flown by the city’s de facto flag carrier, Cathay…

Hong Kong protests: former lawmaker convicted of causing hearing loss to police officer by shouting through loudhailer at anti-government rally   -25%

An ousted Hong Kong lawmaker was on Monday convicted of causing hearing loss to a police officer by shouting through a loudhailer at an anti-government rally eight months ago.Au Nok-hin was also found guilty by Kowloon City Court of attacking another officer in the same incident on July 8, when a rally against the now-withdrawn extradition bill descended into clashes between protesters and police.The 32-year-old former politician was allowed bail until he is sentenced on April 24, pending a…

Coronavirus: Hong Kong shuts airport to foreigners indefinitely as cases rise to 914   9%

Hong Kong extended its airport closure to foreign arrivals indefinitely as the number of coronavirus infections surpassed 900 and a leading microbiologist called for an emergency law requiring all residents to wear masks in public.The city recorded 24 fresh Covid-19 infections on Monday, nearly all imported, continuing a trend where most recent cases involve travellers. Just six were local transmissions, all involving entertainment venues already shut under a sweeping campaign to limit social…

Emergency delivery for baby after mothers fatal Hong Kong fall   12%

A pregnant woman who fell from a Hong Kong housing block during an apparent attempt to escape a police drugs bust died early on Monday, hours after the baby was delivered in hospital.The newborn boy, delivered by emergency caesarean section, was in critical condition in the intensive care unit of Kwong Wah Hospital in Yau Ma Tei as of 1pm on Monday, a Hospital Authority spokesman said.Police officers were still trying to identify the woman, who was thought to be about 40 years old, having found…

Four Hong Kong men, including two students, denied bail after high-speed chase and arrest   -5%

Four young Hong Kong men arrested on Friday following a high-speed car chase that led police to open fire have been denied bail and sent to jail to await further investigation on charges of robbery and dangerous driving.The group’s first appearance at Sha Tin Court on Monday drew dozens of supporters, including family members, social workers and schoolteachers, who took alternating seats in the small courtroom as required by the judiciary’s social-distancing measures amid the coronavirus…

Coronavirus: traffic figures for Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge tumble dramatically amid Covid-19 border-control measures   -21%

After more than a year in operation, the much-touted mega bridge linking Hong Kong with Zhuhai and Macau has seen a dramatic drop in usage amid the coronavirus pandemic, plummeting by 90 per cent in February.According to figures recently released by the Transport and Housing Bureau to the Legislative Council, the number of passengers travelling via the local port of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge in February stood at 205,300, down from about 2.08 million a year ago.The vehicle flow at the…

Coronavirus: top Hong Kong microbiologist urges government to make masks mandatory, step up social-distancing enforcement  

The government should make mask wearing mandatory and step up enforcement of social-distancing laws to prevent Covid-19 transmission, the University of Hong Kong’s top microbiologist has said.Dr Ho Pak-leung’s comments came a day after HKU infectious disease expert Yuen Kwok-yung warned of a third wave of infections as mainland Chinese gradually return to Hong Kong, and senior government adviser Bernard Chan suggested the possibility of a strict lockdown.Ho on Monday urged the Hong Kong…

Hong Kongs opposition targets Legislative Council seats it has not won in over 20 years for majority bid   32%

Hong Kong’s opposition camp has vowed to win four key seats seen as pro-establishment strongholds in September’s legislative election, to secure its first majority in the chamber since the 1997 handover and force the government into delivering democratic reforms.In their bid to take control of the Legislative Council, pro-democracy politicians have urged voters to register in the functional constituencies of engineering, catering, retail and architecture – where they have not won in more than…

Coronavirus: Hong Kong virologist calls for wide-scale antibody testing aimed at detecting citys true number of Covid-19 cases   -6%

A large-scale antibody study should be carried out to gauge the true number of Covid-19 infections in Hong Kong, information that would allow the government to make better-informed policy decisions, a veteran virologist has urged.The recent return of Hongkongers from overseas has fuelled a rise in the number of cases to close to 900, but Malik Peiris, chair professor of virology at the University of Hong Kong, told the Post he believes the actual number could be higher, and called on the…

Coronavirus can stay on face masks for up to a week, study finds   16%

The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 can adhere to stainless steel and plastic surfaces for up to four days, and to the outer layer of a face mask for a week, according to a study by researchers from the University of Hong Kong (HKU).The team also found that common household disinfectants, including bleach, were effective in “killing” the virus.The report, published in medical journal The Lancet on Thursday, adds to a growing body of research about the stability of Sars-CoV-2 – as the…

Coronavirus: dont abandon your cat because of unproven scientific research, experts say   2%

Experts from Hong Kong and Britain have urged cat owners and the public in general not to overreact to unverified scientific reports suggesting they might be at risk of contracting Covid-19 from their feline companions.Dirk Pfeiffer, chair professor of One Health at Hong Kong City University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, made his appeal after Chinese social media users suggested the country’s stray cats be exterminated to eliminate the risk, as was the case with poultry infected with bird…

Coronavirus: Hong Kong and Singapore are hungry for Australian produce, but why cant they get it?   -16%

Until a fortnight ago, Antony Allen was exporting a total of 45 tonnes of avocados to Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia every week. These days, Allen – the chief executive of agribusiness The Avolution in Brisbane, Australia – is unable to send even a third of that amount to his company’s top three overseas markets. The problem is not a drop-off in demand, which remains strong, but the grounding of global aviation due to the coronavirus pandemic. Freight capacity, most of which is usually…

Bernardita Catalla, the Philippines former consul general to Hong Kong, dies of coronavirus in Beirut   2%

Bernardita Catalla – the Philippines’ ambassador to Lebanon, who also served as consul general in Hong Kong – died in Beirut on Thursday morning due to complications from Covid-19.Catalla, 62, is the Southeast Asian nation’s first career diplomat to have died from the disease, which has killed more than 47,000 people around the world.Before her assignment in Beirut, Catalla – known as Bernie – was from 2014 to 2017 consul general to Hong Kong, a city with some 240,000 Filipino residents,…

Rebel shareholders demand HSBC revive dividend and slash management pay   -9%

Incensed by HSBC’s decision to cancel its dividend at the request of regulators last week, a group of more than 3,000 investors in Hong Kong demanded on Monday that the lender reinstate its final payout for 2019 and instead eliminate compensation for top management for a year.From retirees to large pension funds, cutting the cash dividend has been particularly harsh for Hong Kong investors, who have come to rely on it as a steady source of income. About a third of the bank’s shareholders in…

Hong Kong and Shenzhen firms join global effort to meet demand for coronavirus test kits   -10%

As demand for Covid-19 test kits surges globally, three diagnostic companies in Hong Kong and neighbouring Shenzhen sprang into action to help contain the worst public health crisis in a generation.“We are seeing huge demand for our extraction kits, with order requests in the range of 10,000 to 100,000 units a day,” Ricky Chiu Yin-to, the chairman of Hong Kong-based Phase Scientific International, said in an interview. “We will be delivering [the kits] in the next couple of weeks.”The company…

Hong Kong stocks see big gains as daily deaths decline in US, other coronavirus hotspots   34%

Good morning traders -- Hong Kong stocks rallied on optimism lockdowns may be working. China markets were closed today. Catch up on the action below! And, hey, are you getting your Live Stocks Blog every morning via email? You can! Don't miss out on our coverage of Hong Kong and mainland markets each trading day! If you would like the Live Stocks Blog emailed to you each morning, click  here. If you need to reach the stocks team, email  deb.price@scmp.com. -- Gigi Choy, Deb Price and…

Hong Kong will welcome HSBC, Standard Chartered if they moved headquarters to city, minister says  

HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank would be welcomed by the government, if they were to move their headquarters to Hong Kong, a senior minister said, adding that the city met international lenders’ regulatory and business requirements.“HSBC has always had a lot of operations in Asia and Hong Kong, while a substantial portion of its profitability also comes from the region. Likewise, Standard Chartered Bank also has a big exposure to Hong Kong and Asia. The regulations and business opportunities…

Hong Kong developers buy US$193.5 million worth of own shares in bid to support market, boost confidence   -15%

The slumping equity market has prompted some Hong Kong developers and their majority owners to step in and shore up support for investors, while increasing their stakes at the same time.At least three companies – New World Development, Wheelock and Co, and a joint venture owned by the father-son duo of Li Ka-shing and Victor Li Tzar-kuoi – have been actively involved in buying shares on the slide.They swooped in on nearly HK$1.5 billion (US$193.5 million) worth of stock last month after prices…

HSBC boss Noel Quinn writes letter to reassure Hong Kong shareholders after sharp three-day drop in stock price   -1%

HSBC chief executive Noel Quinn sent a letter to each of the bank’s shareholders in Hong Kong on Friday to explain the lender’s decision to cancel its dividend this week and reassure investors of its strong capital position.The unusual step of writing directly to the bank’s shareholder base in the city came after a torrid three-day stretch that saw about US$15 billion shaved off the company’s market capitalisation after the bank cancelled its final interim dividend for 2019 and said it would…

Chinas largest car rental agent halts trading in Hong Kong, as shares plunge amid scandal at chairmans associate company   12%

Shares of Car Inc, China’s largest car rental company, plunged by as much as 68.4 per cent in Hong Kong on Friday before trading was suspended at 10.14am, on suspicions it was linked with Luckin Coffee, which announced on Thursday that Liu Jian, its chief operating officer, and several employees had fabricated transactions worth 2.2 billion yuan (US$310.4 million) last year.Liu worked at Car and UCar Inc, a ride-hailing service provider that holds a substantial stake in the rental company,…

Hong Kong, China stocks slip on coronavirus jitters   4%

TGIF, traders -- China and Hong Kong markets closed down. Catch up on the action below! And, hey, are you getting your Live Stocks Blog every morning via email? You can! Don't miss out on our coverage of Hong Kong and mainland markets each trading day! If you would like the Live Stocks Blog emailed to you each morning, click here. If you need to reach the stocks team, email  deb.price@scmp.com. -- Gigi Choy, Kathleen Magramo and Deb Price in Hong Kong  Note: Information in this blog is on…

Hong Kong retail rents might need to be halved for tenants, landlords to survive coronavirus outbreak, developer says   50%

Hong Kong’s retail landlords might have to cut rents by 50 per cent to attract new tenants amid a worsening outbreak of the novel coronavirus, one of the city’s richest developers said.“For these few months, you’ll probably see a 50 per cent cut in rents for the retail sector, or even more,” Edwin Leong Siu-hung, founder of property developer Tai Hung Fai Enterprises, said in an interview. His company has more than 1,000 tenancy agreements all over Hong Kong, including offices, serviced flats,…

Investors punish HSBC, Standard Chartered for scrapping dividends, wiping billions off shares and calling for headquarters to move to Hong Kong   -30%

From retirees to global insurers and investment managers, outraged shareholders in Hong Kong have wiped billions of dollars in value off HSBC’s and Standard Chartered’s shares after the banks axed dividends and suspended share buy-backs on Wednesday.Over the course of two days, HSBC’s shares in Hong Kong have lost 12 per cent of their value, plumbing their lowest level since the depths of the global financial crisis in March 2009. Standard Chartered’s stock did not fare much better, dropping 8…

PLA garrison in Hong Kong reports helicopter incident   17%

The Hong Kong Garrison of the Chinese People's Liberation Army reported a helicopter accident during its training at a park on Monday afternoon, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government said in a statement on Tuesday via its official website.

No residential buildings were damaged or civilians injured during the accident, read the statement.

PLA Hong Kong Garrison organizes joint sea and air patrol   12%

PLA Hong Kong Garrison organizes joint sea and air patrol.

By Huang Zijuan and Zhou Xiang

BEIJING, Mar. 30-- The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Hong Kong Garrison organized a joint sea and air patrol in the first quarter of 2020.

The PLA Hong Kong Garrison’s troops strictly complied with the laws and regulations of Hong Kong's waterway, port and aviation management during the patrol, and notified the relevant departments of the government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in advance.

The army, navy and air force under the PLA Hong Kong Garrison also conducted combat drills during the joint patrol on several subjects and tested their defense capabilities.

The drill subjects include joint sea and air search and rescue, temporary inspection, visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations, urban counter-terrorism, etc.

It is reported that during this drills, various troops of special operations, air defense, navy, and aviation, carried out training subjects according to actual combat requirements and in the form of red-blue confrontation.

Lieutenant Colonel Mu Tiefeng, deputy director of the Training Division of PLA Hong Kong Garrison, said that the defense capabilities of the PLA Hong Kong Garrison, and the coordinated combat capabilities of the various services and arms, were effectively tested through the drills in this joint sea and air patrol.

Vessels participate in the joint patrol.


Cat-astrophe in the making? ANOTHER feline tests positive for coronavirus, this time in Hong Kong   9%

A pet cat has tested positive for the dreaded Covid-19 coronavirus in Hong Kong, after apparently contracting the disease from its owner. Last week, another feline turned out to have the virus in Belgium.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Bad luck? Lost job? Coronavirus outbreak? Hong Kong's 'villain-hitters' beat all fears away   6%

Under a busy bridge in the middle of Hong Kong, women at traditional shrines use slippers and bricks to beat away the bad luck of political unrest, economic decline and the coronavirus.

Is this the world's best Indian restaurant?   41%

On Asia's 50 best restaurants list, updated annually, most of the top spots are usually awarded to upscale restaurants in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok.