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Flu-like outbreaks trigger compulsory testing at 3 kindergartens, primary school

Posted on 22 September 2021 No comments

By The SU

Po Leung Kuk kindergarten in Tseung Kwan O is included in the CTN

Three kindergartens and a primary school have been placed on the compulsory testing notice following outbreaks of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) and/or influenza-like illness in those schools with symptoms similar to Covid-19.

The Centre for Health Protection said in a press release Tuesday that anyone who had stayed for more than two hours in the four schools from Sept 8 to 21 should undergo compulsory Covid-19 nucleic acid test by Thursday, Sept 23.

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The four affected schools are:

  • Hong Kong Ling Liang Church Sau Tak Kindergarten Campus 2 at 1/F, West Kowloon Place, One West Kowloon, 873 Lai Chi Kok Road, Kowloon
  • Po Leung Kuk Fong Wong Woon Tai Kindergarten, Unit KG02, G/F, East Wing, TKO Gateway, Hau Tak Estate, 2 Sheung Ning Road, Tseung Kwan O, New Territories
  • Hong Kong Ling Liang Church Sau Tak Kindergarten and its nursery school, Shop 6-8, 1/F, West Kowloon Place, One West Kowloon, 873 Lai Chi Kok Road, Kowloon, and  
  • Chinese International School, 1 Hau Yuen Path, Braemar Hill, North Point. Primary School Year 1 pupils and teachers. The CHP said CIS pupils and teachers, including full-time, part-time and relief teachers who had face-to-face lessons on specified dates must be tested.
Chinese Intl School, where P1 pupils and teachers will also need to be tested for Covid-19

Exempted from the CTN are persons who had undergone testing between Sept 19 and Sept 21.

The CHP did not indicate how many pupils or teachers had been affected by the flu-like outbreak.


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But previously, it reported that URTI struck 29 pupils in a Yuen Long kindergarten, prompting its closure for five days for disinfection and compliance with a CTN

Earlier, a similar outbreak in a kindergarten in Tai Po affected 20 pupils, which also caused the CHP to order compulsory testing on people who had been at the school durng relevant periods.

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In both instances, the patients had cough, runny nose, sore throat and fever. At least 24 had to seek medical attention but no one was hospitalized.

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For HK’s best views, take a spin on the Observation Wheel

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By Daisy CL Mandap 

You can have three spins on the Observation Wheel for just $20  (Wikimedia photo)

If there is one thing that you should not miss during the pandemic, it is taking a ride on Hong Kong’s Observation Wheel, that giant ferris wheel by the harbour that has become part of the city’s landscape in recent years.

At the greatly reduced price of $20 for adults and $10 for children 3-11 years old (those below 3 are free) and senior citizens, the three-round, 15 to 20-minute ride aboard the 60-metre tall wheel is within the reach of everyone in Hong Kong

With hardly any tourist around and the weather starting to get cooler, this is also the best time for people in Hong Kong to grab at the chance of having a hassle-free ride on the Observation Wheel, then stroll leisurely on the grounds below.

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When it first opened in 2014, a spin on the wheel cost $100 a person, and many people didn’t balk. After all, similar rides in other countries charged far more. But now that the admission price is only a fifth of the original amount, there is more reason not to miss this visual treat.

The London Eye, which towers over the River Thames at 135 meters, charges between 27 and 30 pounds per person (or about $290-$319) for each spin. Singapore Flyer, which at 150 meters is Asia’s largest observation wheel, charges the equivalent of HK$190.

When on the HK Wheel, one could have unobstructed views of Victoria Harbour, and all surrounding areas, including the iconic HSBC and Bank of China headquarters on the other side, and even the Kowloon Peninsula.

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The ride is comfortable as all its 42 gondolas are air-conditioned and wide enough for non-stop selfies and bloggings, with Hong Kong’s spectacular views as backdrops.

View of Kowloon from the Wheel

Each gondola can sit up to eight people, but the ride attendants are trained not to squeeze in people who do not know each other, so even if there are only two of you together, they will let you occupy one carriage so you can have all the space that you want during the ride.

The company’s website mentions a VIP gondola which has leather seats and clear glass-bottom floor and which takes in a maximum of five people, but it does not appear to be on offer to the public.

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After the ride, one can walk over to the adjacent Vitality Park which offers health drinks and snacks, and hosts a variety of classes including yoga, kickboxing and swing dancing; and events like comedy shows and wine-tasting.

Central's iconic buildings can be seen from the other side 

But this would not have been all possible had a rift between the previous owner, Swiss AEX and current management, The Entertainment Corporation Limited, not been resolved in time.

The Wheel was closed to the public in August 2017 when a dispute over the transfer of ownership resulted in a deadlock. The government then issued a statement that the Wheel could be dismantled and closed for two years until a replacement was built by TECL.

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Fortunately, the warring companies struck a deal on Sept 6 that year, which saved the Wheel from demolition. It reopened to the public in December 2017, with the new owners promising to make the Wheel experience more affordable for everyone.

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Filipinos swamp Consulate in bid to beat deadline for voter registration

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By Vir B. Lumicao 

Registrants on Sunday had to wait 7 hours to get up to the Consulate offices

Filipinos trying to beat the Sept 30 deadline for overseas voter registration for next May’s general elections have swamped the Consulate in large numbers for the second Sunday in on Sept 19.

Consulate staff and volunteers also had their hands full the past two Saturdays as hundreds of OFWs also took a time out from other activities to register.

Tomorrow being a statutory holiday, would have given a chance to many other Filipino domestic workers to register, but the Consulate will be closed. That means there is only one other weekend before the deadline when other Filipino migrant workers can register.

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Consul General Raly Tejada says it is regrettable that the pandemic has limited the chances of Filipinos to go to the Consulate to register.

“Am sure kung di lang dahil sa pandemya ay lahat sana ay naka rehistro ng maayos noon pa,” ConGen Tejada said.  (Am sure were it not for the pandemic, everyone should have been registered smoothly back then).

He said that about 600 registrants had turned up last Sunday, and even if a big number were still in the queue when the Consulate closed for the day at 4pm, the Overseas Voters Registration Team was still able to register everyone.

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Amid the weekend deluge, Congen Tejada called on those who have yet to register to exercise their right to vote.

 “I continue to appeal to all to exercise their civic duty and register to vote,” he said. Again, I wish to remind everyone that weekdays are less crowded.”

But he assured that everyone who turns up, even during the coming weekend when another deluge is expected, will still be listed up.

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“Uubusin pa din namin ang sinumang nakapila sa darating na Sabado at Linggo. Homestretch na po dahil hanggang ngayong buwan na lamang ang registration period.

(But, like today, we will finish anyone on the queue this coming Saturday and Sunday. It’s the homestretch because the registration period will be only until the end of the month.)

The queue extended all the way to the bridge linking United Centre to another building

At around 3:30pm Sunday, a queue formed by two to three persons abreast, still snaked around the second floor of United Centre, where the lifts going up to the Consulate’s 14th floor offices are located.

Unlike in previous Sundays where as many people as could fit in the Consulate’s service area were allowed in, only 10 people at a time were cleared to go up the lifts this time around.

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Those at the head of the queue said they had arrived at 8am that day, and were told to line up at the bridge connecting United Centre to other nearby buildings. It took them another hour and a half before they managed to set foot in the building housing the Consulate.

 "Yung iba po siguro mga 5 or 6am pa pumila, kasi marami nang tao noong dumating kami,” said a tired-looking Filipina who had lined up with a friend. “Yung ibang kasabay namin umalis na lang.”

(I think there were others who came as early as 5am or 6am just to line up, because there were already a lot of people when we came. Those who came at the same time decided to just leave).

A corner away, people were complaining why the line was hardly moving. They said they had been in the queue since 1:30pm and were tired and hungry. A few of them risked incurring the ire of some eagle-eyed security personnel and sat on the floor to wait.

Asked why they did not take the chance to register earlier, they said it was only now that they had the time to do it.      

A volunteer marshalling the queue said there were more people the previous Sunday, when the triple line stretched from the corner near Metro Remittance to the northern escalator, almost ringing the lift lobby.

The record Saturday crowd at the Consulate on Sept 18

Last Saturday a record number of people also turned up to register. One of them, Ever Ramos from the Domestic Workers Corner Saturday group, said she and some friends lined up in the public hall at 11:30am and completed the process only at 5:50pm. 

She said the huge turnout was partly due to the misunderstanding that Saturday was the only day in the week when Filipinos could register. Even those whose day-off was Sunday asked permission from their employers to go out so they could register

"Kasi ang pagkakaalam nila ay wala nang ibang araw. Kaya dumagsa talaga ng tao. Sabi ko sa kanila pang-Saturday na off lang. Ang iba nakikipagtalo pa eh, wala daw ibang araw, Sabado lang daw,” Ramos said.

(They thought there was no other day. So, a big crowd came. I told them it was only for those who have their day off on a Saturday. Others argued it was only on Saturday.)

Some volunteers, however, blamed the overcrowding on other people’s penchant for procrastination. They observed that in the early days of the OVR, only about eight or 10 people would come to register on a Sunday.

This was confirmed by Cherry Ann, a migrant worker who is thankful that she took the advise to register after she submitted her new employment contract in September last year.

"Walang katao-tao,” she recalls, as she was there on a weekday. (There was no one else around).

But her attitude was rare. The volunteers said that most OFWs who were encouraged to register while they were at the Consulate for other businesses often said, “Saka na lang, matagal pa naman ang eleksiyon.”  (Later on, the elections are still far away).

Registrants are herded into the lift 10 at a time after hours of waiting in the lobby

Voting interest is high among the more than 200,000 Filipinos in Hong Kong, as the May 9, 2022 general elections will include the election of a new president to replace the incumbent, Rodrigo R. Duterte.

On Sunday, boxing star Manny Pacquiao heightened overseas Filipinos' interest in the elections when he announced he will run for president. Pacquiao, who is popular among migrant workers, especially the men, will be running against several other candidates, including fellow Senators Ping Lacson and Bong Go, and possibly Vice President Leni Robredo.

Duterte, who cannot run for a second term, has announced he will run as Go’s running mate, but there is speculation he could just be warming the seat for his daughter, Sara, who is being pushed by his own party as their choice for president.

Another candidate who could win the OFs' nod is Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, a former actor who is banking on his high visibility on social media to win votes. He is running alongside Dr Willie Ong, another popular social media personality who, however, lost in his previous bid to become a senator.

Apart from electing a new president and vice-president, Filipino overseas voters will also elect senators and a party-list, whose nominee/s will sit in the House of Representatives if it gets enough votes.

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5M vaccination target for 2nd flat in lucky draw extended to Nov 30

Posted on 21 September 2021 No comments

By The SUN 

A second flat worth $12 million could be raffled off it the vaccination rate goes up to 5M by Nov 30

The organizers of a lucky draw that recently awarded a brand-new flat to a vaccinated permanent resident have extended by two months the deadline for giving away another house, if at least five million Hong Kong people have received at least one jab.

At the same time, they announced additional prizes of 200 stored-value or credit cards loaded with $10,000 each to vaccinated people aged 70 and above. The move is meant to prod more elderly people to get vaccinated, as this segment of the population has the lowest vaccine uptake rate.

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Sino Group’s charity, Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation Ltd and Chinese Estates Holdings Ltd announced today, Sept 21, that the registration for Phase 2 of its lucky draw has been extended until Nov. 30.

This means the previous deadline of Sept 30 has been extended for both the sign-up for the new prizes and the cut-off date for the 5 million targeted vaccinations, which given the continuing slide in the number of people applying for the jabs, is not likely to be achieved.

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Latest figures from the government show that a total of 4.4 million people have taken at least one dose of the vaccine, with the daily booking figure dropping to just around 4,000 from the previous 30,000 to 40,000.

As announced earlier, the organizers will also give away 20 scholarships in the form of stored-value cards or credit cards loaded with $200,000 each to vaccinated Hong Kong residents aged 12 to 17. These will be drawn as originally scheduled on Oct 7, regardless of Hong Kong’s vaccination rate.

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The new flat to be given away as the grand prize in Phase 2 of the lucky draw is said to cost $12 million, and is located in Grand Central, Kwun Tong.

This is the same estate where the first flat that was given away early this month, costing $10.8 million, is located. It was won by a 30-year-old chef surnamed Lee.

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The organizers also raffled off 20 stored-value cards loaded with $100,000 each, and one of the winners was a Filipina domestic worker.

Grand-prize winner Lee is flanked by organizers' representatives in photo taken in Grand Central

Daryl Ng, NTFCF director, said a high vaccination rate would reduce the severe impact of the virus on Hong Kong’s population. Getting inoculated is the most effective way of steering the people out of the pandemic and back to normal life, he said.

“Given the tight supply of vaccines worldwide, the HKSAR Government has made tremendous efforts to provide sufficient quantity of Covid-19 vaccines to the public,” Ng said.

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He said the vaccination rate in August was very positive, prompting the sponsors to extend the registration for the grand prize of the lucky draw to give unvaccinated people, in particular the elderly, more time to consult medical experts for professional advice.

“I hope those who are vaccinated will encourage their relatives and friends to act. If the average vaccination rate per day can return to the August level, the goal to get 5 million or more of Hong Kong’s population vaccinated will be achieved soon,” Ng said.

To be eligible for the grand prize draw, participants must be fully vaccinated Hong Kong permanent residents aged 18 and above. For the other prizes, even non-PRs can take part.

Eligible participants in the Phase 2 draw for the grand prize and additional prize can register from 9am on Oct 8 until 5:30pm on Nov 30, with details to be announced on the Lucky Draw website www.vaccinationluckydraw.hk in due course. 

Winners will be randomly drawn on Dec 7 by a specialist computer system designed by Ernst & Young Advisory Services Ltd, an external service provider.

The result will be announced on the lucky draw website on the same day and will be published in local newspapers on Dec 13.  

Potential participants are advised to seek medical advice before vaccination, and book their vaccination appointments on www.covidvaccine.gov.hk. For enquiries, participants can contact the dedicated Lucky Draw hotline 3697 9357 between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Sunday, or email enquiry@vaccinationluckydraw.hk

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CE says HK has no plan to ease gathering restrictions soon

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By The SUN 

CE Lam addresses the press on Mid-Autumn Festival day

Chief Executive Carrie Lam has marked Mid-Autumn Festival by saying that there will be no significant relaxation of Hong Kong’s social distancing measures anytime soon.

Speaking at the weekly press briefing today, Sept 21, CE Lam said that despite not having recorded any local Covid infections for more than a month, Hong Kong must remain on high alert.

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“Yes, we have not recorded any local cases for about a month, but we should not let our guards down because it will take only one case to creep into our community and cause an outbreak,” Lam said.

Thus, the 14-day and 21-day quarantine imposed on new arrivals outside of China, Macau and Taiwan, will remain for now, as well as restrictions on gatherings in public places.

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“The social distancing measures will be eased at a relatively low pace. Hong Kong must also focus on preventing the importation of cases.”

The city’s top leader made the statement as the Centre for Health Protection announced a sole imported infection today, involving a 34-year-old man who arrived from France on Sept 19 and tested positive on his arrival test at Hong Kong airport.

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He received two jabs of the BioNTech vaccine in Hong Kong, and also tested positive for antibodies before his trip abroad. He is asymptomatic.

Travelers from the Mainland can enter HK quarantine-free, but not the other way around

The Chief Executive said she has been lobbying Chinese officials to allow a quarantine-free entry of Hong Kong residents into the mainland.

"How we could achieve quarantine-free travel by Hong Kong people into the Mainland of China is also my top priority. That's why last Saturday during my meeting with the Vice Premier Han Zheng in Shenzhen, I have also, on behalf of Hong Kong people, appealed…that we are very earnest about a meeting between the two sides, with government officials and health experts and so on, so as to iron out a scheme or the set of conditions that will allow Hong Kong people to travel into the Mainland without quarantine.”

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She said that since Sept 15, about 400 non-Hong Kong residents traveling from the mainland have been allowed to enter the city without undergoing 21-day quarantine under the Come2HK Scheme. But that arrangement is only one-way at the moment.

“The remaining question is for Hong Kong people to travel into the Mainland without being subject to quarantine requirement, and I hope we will shortly have this meeting that I have been talking about,” she said.

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The Chief Executive added that if Hong Kong wishes to resume cross-border activities with the mainland, the city must convince mainland authorities of the effectiveness of its anti-epidemic strategies.

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