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Kwai Chung lockdown to last 5 days as ‘superspreader’ infects 20 people

Posted on 21 January 2022 No comments

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Secretary Chan said the Kwai Chung outbreak was caused by a 'superspreader'

Hong Kong’s health authorities have ordered a five-day complete lockdown of Yat Kwai house in Kwai Chung estate as it emerged that a so-called “superspreader” had infected at least 20 other residents, staff and visitors at the building.

Secretary for Health Prof. Sophia Chan made the announcement as the first day of the lockdown began at 6pm today, Jan 21.

“The government takes a serious view of this incident and will take action,” said Prof. Chan. “We must take swift action so we can return to normal as soon as possible.”

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Prof Chan said that during the lockdown which will last until Wednesday morning, all 2,700 residents of the building will not be allowed to leave, and will be required to undergo daily testing. All meals will be brought to them by staff of the Housing Authority.

She said at least 20 cases have been linked to the outbreak at Yat Kwai House, which she described as worrying.

At the regular press briefing by the Centre for Health Protection earlier, six confirmed cases were linked to the housing block. This was on top of the three confirmed cases reported on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan who conducted the briefing said there were more than 20 preliminary positive cases, and about 10 of them are also connected to the Yat Kwai outbreak.

Health experts who conducted a site visit at the estate Thursday night only recommended a three-day overnight lockdowns, with residents who test negative on the daily tests being allowed to leave the building for work or other purposes.

But as more cases linked to the building emerged, health officials decided to extend the lockdown and ensure all residents are kept in for five days when they estimate all those who had been infected with the virus would be detected.

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CHP controller Dr Edwin Tsui said the outbreak started when the husband of a woman who was infected during her 21-day quarantine at Silka Seaview Hotel in Yau Ma Tei went to collect salvageable items from the garbage dump at Yat Kwai and two other buildings in the estate on Jan. 13.

“At the collection station he got in touch with the cleaner and passed the virus on to her,” Tsui said. The cleaner in turn passed it on to residents as she collected their garbage or said hello to them in the hallways.

Tsui said the cleaner would have been most infectious between Jan 16 to 18, and those who were infected by her would have incubated the virus in three to six days.

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“(So) within these five days we hope to catch all those infected,” he said.

The officials explained that moving all the residents to a quarantine center was not necessary as the virus did not spread through the sewage pipes or air ventilation system as what happens when the so-called “vertical transmission” occurs.

“This is not a building structure issue so there is no need to move residents to a quarantine center,” said Chan.

She appealed to residents who were still out when the lockdown began this evening to “go home normally” and not go elsewhere, and assured them that the Housing Authority will provide them support, from the daily testing to providing them with meals for the next five days.

She hoped things could return to normal for the residents before the Lunar New Year holidays.

Yat Kwai residents do some shopping before the lockdown (RTHK photo)

She also urged those living in high risk areas in Aberdeen and Sham Shui Po to get tested, and for everyone who has not received Covid-19 vaccine to get jabbed as soon as possible.

At the CHP briefing, Dr Chuang listed among the preliminary cases a cleaner at Yat Kwai who lives in the neighboring Ying Kwai House in the same estate.

A two-year-old child who lives on the same floor as the cleaner in Ying Kwai House has also tested preliminary positive, as well as a security guard at Yat Kwai.

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No information was made available as to whether the cleaner was vaccinated, but the Pakistani peddler who passed on the virus to her was not vaccinated.

Of the six confirmed cases today that were linked to the outbreak, four had no record of having received vaccination.

Chuang reported 6 confirmed cases in Kwai Chung, and 5 related to the hamster infections

Chuang said a total of 24 cases were detected as of midnight Thursday, and 18 were local cases. Sixteen were linked to other local cases, while the sources of infection of the two others were unknown.

The untraceable cases pertained to a 24-year-old assistant social worker who lives in Cheung Sha Wan and works in Kwai Chung, and a 37-year-old female salesperson in Kwun Tong who lives in Tsuen Wan.

Five of the confirmed local cases were connected to the outbreak of the Delta variant in pet shops which prompted a cull of about 2,000 small animals on Tuesday.

Two had bought hamsters from the Little Boss pet shops in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, where 11 of the animals were found to carry the L452R mutant strain linked to Delta.

Two others were family members of a customer of the Causeway Bay pet shop who was infected earlier. They also bought something from the shop.

The last infected person had a meal at Dragon Palace Restaurant in Aberdeen at about the same time as the husband of the pet shop customer. Chuang said the two sat far apart, but both remembered going to the men’s toilet during that time, so it’s believed the infection happened there.

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Kwai Chung building locked down for 3 days after 16 Omicron cases found

Posted on No comments

By The SUN 

Residents at Yat Kwai House will be tested for three consecutive nights 

Health authorities have ordered three consecutive overnight lockdowns on Yat Kwai House in Kwai Chung Estate after 16 confirmed Covid-19 cases, likely with a new strain of the Omicron variant, were detected in the building.

At an impromptu press briefing late on Thursday, a team from the Centre for Health Protection said the 16 confirmed cases were either confirmed positive or were preliminary positive. Fifteen are residents and one is a security guard.

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The result of the genome sequencing on the first two cases has revealed the presence of BA.2 sub-variant of the Omicron, which is believed to be even more infectious than the original variant.

Microbiologist Dr Yuen Kwok-yung revealed that the infections were linked to a Pakistani housewife who caught the coronavirus with the highly transmissible variant just before leaving her quarantine hotel, then brought it home with her to Sham Shui Po.

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It turned out her 46-year-old husband who is not vaccinated and was in turn infected, had gone to the garbage rooms at Kwai Chung Estate on Jan 13 to gather items he could sell at his hawker’s spot on Nam Cheong Street in Sham Shui Po.

Yuen said the man must have spent time choosing items in the trash collection point not only in Yat Kwai House, but also at Luk Kwai House and Tsz Kwai House in the Kwai Chung estate.

The virus is believed to have been passed on to either the building’s cleaners or security personnel, who went on to infect residents.

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He said the infected residents live in 12 units on 11 floors, and the flats face different directions. An inspection of the sewage pipes did not reveal any abnormality, thus, it is not likely that vertical transmission had taken place.

Yuen on an inspection visit to the Kwai Chung estate

Because of these findings Yuen said it was not necessary to evacuate everyone but suggested that the building be put under lockdown daily for the next three days. There are also 2,500 people living in the building, so there would not be enough quarantine places for all of them.

Under the daily lockdown residents will be required to undergo testing every night and show a negative test result on their mobile phones in the morning if they want to leave.

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However, Yuen advised them not to leave their houses unless absolutely necessary to prevent a further spread of the virus.

The first positive case from the building was detected on Jan 16, when a 79-year-old man was tested prior to undergoing a colonoscopy at Yan Chai Hospital.

Yesterday, two other infections were linked to the building. One was a  55-year-old male resident working as a forklift operator at Cathay Pacific’s cargo terminal site at Hong Kong airport, while the other is a year-old baby girl who visited her grandmother who lives in the building.

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Secondary schools to suspend in-person classes from Monday

Posted on No comments

 By The SUN

 

A Covid-19 cross-infection among students prompted the move to suspend face-to-face classes

The Education Bureau (EDB) has ordered the suspension of on-campus classes and other activities at all secondary schools from Monday, Jan 24, until Feb. 7, after the Chinese New Year holidays. All face-to-face classes in kindergarten and primary schools were suspended earlier.

EDB followed this up with a statement requiring all teachers, staff and even visitors of kindergartens, primary and secondary as well as tutorial schools, to have at least the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine before being allowed entry into school premises starting on Feb. 24.

The orders came in the wake of a number of coronavirus cross-infections among students and a teacher at Delia Memorial School (Broadway) in Mei Foo, which spilled over to other schools such as David Li Kwok-Po College, Lantau International School and Buddhist Fat Ho Memorial School.


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An unrelated case involves a student at St Joseph Anglo-Chinese College was also found to have Covid-19 with the Delta variant.

A statement issued Thursday by the EDB said: "The epidemic situation in Hong Kong is getting severe recently with a number of confirmed cases of unknown sources. There have been invisible chains of transmission in the community. There have also been confirmed cases or preliminary confirmed cases identified in schools, resulting in compulsory testing and even quarantine of teachers and students. The EDB, after taking various factors into consideration, has made the above decision.

However, secondary six students preparing for the all-important HK DSE (Diploma of Secondary Education Examination) will be allowed to continue going to school for essential activities but for no more than half a day.

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Such an arrangement will also be allowed for students due to sit for public examinations this year.

In either case, the schools must put in place stringent anti-virus restrictions.

According to the statement, schools will remain open to look after students who do not have anyone to take care of them at home.  Staff will also have to report for work to handle school affairs and answer parents' enquiries.

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With regards to the vaccination requirement, the EDB said all staff (including school bus operators, tuck shop operators) and visitors (parents, nannies and volunteers) in schools, except those exempted for medical reasons, will be required to have at least one vaccine dose.

Their vaccination records will be checked before they are allowed entry to school premises.

In addition, those who have received only one vaccine jab are required to get the second dose within eight weeks after February 24, that is, before Apr 21.


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Those who are exempted from vaccination will still be required to undergo testing for Covid-19 once every three days. Such tests will only econdbe through nasal and throat swabs, and not self-testing kits.

And while the vaccine bubble arrangement does not apply to students, those who are within the permitted age range are also urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves and others, and to have more opportunities to take part in extra-curricular activities.

Schools have been told to immediately set up QR codes for "LeaveHomeSafe" (www.leavehomesafe.gov.hk/en/registration) to speed up the checking of vaccination records of everyone entering school premises starting on Feb. 24, except students who are exempted.

The school letter has been uploaded onto the EDB website (www.edb.gov.hk/attachment/en/sch-admin/admin/about-sch/diseases-prevention/edb_20220120_eng_a.pdf).

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Local Covid-19 cases spike as more unknown transmissions found

Posted on 20 January 2022 No comments

By Daisy CL Mandap

 
At least 3 different clusters of infection have emerged in various districts

Fears that there are invisible transmissions of Covid-19 inside Hong Kong have intensified after 10 local or import-related local cases were reported by the Centre for Health Protection today, Jan 20, with nearly double this number testng preliminary positive.

A total of 14 confirmed cases were reported today, four of which were imported. It is the first time since the Omicron-fueled outbreak that started late last month that infections detected locally have outnumbered those brought in by travelers from overseas.

More than 20 preliminary positive cases were also detected, and according to CHP’s Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan at today’s press briefing, “quite a lot are local cases.”

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Today’s confirmed cases include a 17-year-old male student at St Joseph’s Anglo-English College who carried the Delta variant of the coronavirus, and whose source of infection remains unknown.

Chuang said genome sequencing conducted by City University disproved the theory that his case was related to that of a salesgirl at the Little Boss pet shop in Causeway Bay, who was also found to carry the Delta variant.

The tests also revealed that the salesgirl’s genome sequence was different from that of the shop’s female customer and her husband, who also both tested positive for Covid-19 with Delta.

“At this point, it is possible that she (staff) did not directly transmit the illness to the customer. It is possible that the customer stayed in the environment where there was animals, or she has a hamster at home. So we don’t know which is the exact source of infection, but it is possible that animal to human transmission did occur,” Chuang said.

The theory was reinforced by two more people who visited pet shops testing preliminary positive for Covid-19. One bought a hamster from Little Boss while another bought pets from I Love Rabbit pet shop  in Mong Kok, which also sells hamsters.

Following the discovery, experts from CHP and the Animal and Fisheries Conservation Department visited 11 pet shops yesterday, and a sample they collected from a hamster cage in the I Love Rabbit branch in Yuen Long came back positive.

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"This shows that there is a high risk of animal to human transmission,” said Chuang. “If there is transmission from animal to human the genome sequencing would be different.”

Genome sequencing also established a link between a kindergarten teacher who lives in Mei Foo and a Pakistani housewife who triggered off a large number of infections after leaving her quarantine hotel where studies showed she picked up the Omicron variant.

Chuang said contact tracing showed the teacher took the MTR at the same time as the Pakistani woman’s two sons. Close-circuit camera showed them taking the same MTR exit nine seconds apart, all with masks on.

However, the genetic identification of their infections was said to be the same.

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Seven other confirmed cases today were also linked to this cluster. These include:

1)     a 58-year-old female teacher at Delia Memorial School (Broadway) in Mei Foo who was in the same room as a student who tested positive earlier

2)     a 14-year-old brother of one of the students at Delia who shared a room with the Pakistani woman’s son. The latest patient studies at David Li Kwok-Po College and lives in Caribbean Coast

3)     three family members, all males aged 11,14 and 16. The youngest visited the home of the student who lives in Caribbean Coast for a meal on Jan 15. One child studies at Lantau International School and the other at Buddhist Fat Ho Memorial School. A classmate of the latter is now preliminary positive

4)     A friend of the kindergarten teacher who works at K11 Musea in Tsuen Wan. She tested positive in a quarantine centre where she was taken after being identified as a close contact

5)     A friend of a friend of the kindergarten teacher

Two preliminary positive cases involving the parents of the kindergarten teacher who lives in Mei Foo have also been reported.

Covid-19 cases have been found in 7 flats in this building in Kwai Chung

A separate cluster has also been linked to an outbreak at Yat Kwai House in Kwai Chung, where the first resident to test positive was a 79-year-old man who was found infected during routine screening at Yan Chai Hospital.

The two new cases linked to the housing block are a forklift operator at the Cathay cargo terminal and a year-old baby who visited her grandmother on the seventh floor of Yat Kwai House.

Chuang said a couple of residents in the building have tested positive. Seven units on different floors are involved, and they do not all face the same direction. The affected floors are 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th, and 11th.

The test result on a person who lives on the 26th floor is inconclusive. Meanwhile, a resident on the 8th floor went to Shenzhen on Jan 18. CHP is looking into any possible connection.

A number of the preliminary positive cases have so far been classified as unlinked, including a 24-year-old assistant social worker who works in Kwai Chung and lives in Cheung Sha Wan, a 37-year-old saleslady in Kwun Tong and lives in Tsuen Wan, and an 82-year-old man who lives in Sham Shui Po and carried the L452R strain.

CHP has so far and found that he often had breakfast at Dragon Palace in Sham Shui Po where another infected patient often had lunch. Further studies are being carried out.

Chuang also said the Environmental Protection Department has tested sewage samples collected from different parts of Aberdeen and found positive results from some. As a result, a compulsory testing notice will be issued for residents living in 20 residential buildings in the area.

As of today, a total of 13,096 confirmed cases have been found in Hong Kong. Of these, 340 are still being treated in infection control centres run by the Health Department.

FDH visa approvals drop by about half amid pandemic

Posted on No comments

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Immigration data show a drastic drop in the number of migrant workers applying for FDH visas

Hong Kong Immigration has approved only about half of all new visa applications for foreign domestic helpers in the past two years of the pandemic, compared with approvals made in 2019.

The figures were revealed by Labor Secretary Law Chi-kwong during questioning by legislator Judy Chan at the Legislative Council on Wednesday, Jan. 19.

For the year 2019, the total visa applications for FDH approved by Immigration was 101,710. This went down to 68,864 in 2020 for a 32.2% drop, and to 58,152 for 2021, or an overall reduction rate of 42.8% since the pandemic began.

However, Law said more than 5,000 of these visa approvals involved re-applications by those unable to enter Hong Kong, meaning those who actually stayed or came, numbered just over 53,000, or about 48% fewer than in 2019.

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Notably, despite the drastic drop in visa applications, Immigration increasingly rejected such applications over the three-year period, both in actual numbers and percentage-wise.

For 2019, for example, the number of applications made was 102,495, meaning the number of rejections was just 785, or 0.76 of the overall number.

In 2020, when 74,253 FDHs applied, the rejections numbered 5,389 or 7.2% overall.

The ratio dropped further in 2021 to 11.46% when 7,530 of the total 65,682 applications were rejected.

What this indicates is that the drop in interest among FDHs could also be due to Immigration stepping up its scrutiny of visa applications, largely as a result of its avowed desire to keep out so-called “job hoppers”.

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Law said the visa approval figures included those from terminated FDHs allowed to process new contracts in Hong Kong under the “exceptional circumstances of Covid-19.” They did not include those who renewed their contracts, or agreed to extend them for six months, the maximum period allowed by Immigration under its new flexibility arrangement.

For such “other applications,” Law said the figure was 200,000 for 2020 and 340,000 for 2021.

Inferring from these figures, it would appear that a majority of those currently working in Hong Kong have opted to just renew their contracts, or agreed to an extension, rather than terminate their contracts and risk being called  “job hoppers.”

Asked whether it was possible for the Department to allow FDHs to come in according to the dates of their visa approval, Law said this could result to further delay.

“The administrative arrangement involved therein (including arranging submission of documents as proof such as work visa and vaccination record, etc. as well as the registration from families employing FDHs, compiling of the waiting list, making announcement on the order of priority, accepting new registrations regularly and updating the waiting lists, etc. is complicated,” he said.

Law says entry by visa approval date could create more problems

“It may cause delay and affect more FDHs waiting to come to work in Hong Kong.”

Law said a total of 2,288 rooms for quarantine will be available to incoming FDHs starting on Feb 1, with the addition of 150 more rooms at Rambler Garden Hotel. The other designated quarantine facilities are Courtyard by Marriott in Shatin and Regala Skycity in Tung Chung.

He said the government understands the need of local families for FDHs and will consider adding more DQFs, “having regard to the global and local epidemic situation.”

As for the employment agency figures supplied by Law, it would appear that despite the big number of complaints made against them, prosecution had been rare.

In 2020, a total of 82 complaints were made, 53 of which were for overcharging, and 29 for breach of the agency Code of Practice. In 2021 this went down to 62 - 31 for each allegation.

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However, only 10 successful prosecutions were made in 2020, 3 each for illegal operation and overcharging, and 4 for other violations. In 2021, the number was down to 4, 2 for unlicensed operation, 1 for overcharging and 1 for “others.”

Seven licenses were revoked in each year following these prosecutions. Five were for overcharging and 2 for breach of CoP in 2020, while it was 2-4 and 1 for “others” for 2021.

Filipina overstayer escapes jail time

Posted on No comments

By Leo A. Deocadiz 

The Shatin magistrate imposed a sentence more lenient than the one suggested by the defence

A Filipina escaped jail today, Jan. 20, despite pleading guilty to breach of condition of stay, which is punishable under the Immigration Ordinance by a fine of up to $50,000 and imprisonment of up to two years.

Acting Principal Magistrate of Shatin Court David Cheung Chi-wai convicted I.V. Macanta as charged and sentenced her to 16 days in prison, but suspended the punishment for 12 months.

This allowed Macanta to stay out of jail, but she was warned that if she commits a new crime in the next 12 months, she would have to serve her sentence, plus the punishment for the new crime.

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Macanta arrived in Hong Kong in April 2019 as a domestic helper. However, her contract was terminated by her employer in October 2020 after she became pregnant.

She initially got 14-day extensions of her visa, the last of which was on Feb. 5, 2021, until she was told on Feb. 23 that her application for visa extension was rejected and that she should report to Immigration to deportation proceedings.

From then on, she did not show up until Nov. 17, 2021.

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After the facts of the case were read to her, Macanta pleaded guilty.

Macanta’s lawyer explained that during the seven and a half months that she was missing, she gave birth and took care of her baby. He added that the baby’s father was a Hong Kong resident.

The lawyer also said she took care of her partner’s mother.

The lawyer sought leniency for her, citing her clean record, and recommended a suspended sentence of 24 days so that she could take care of her baby, who was just outside the court room, being looked after by the father.

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In his ruling, the judge shortened the recommended period to 16 days.

Asked how she felt about the proceedings afterwards, Macanta blurted out: “Salamat!”

Filipino-led church gives care packs to over 200 quarantined migrant workers

Posted on 19 January 2022 No comments

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Bishop Gerry Vallo with wife Edelyn after delivering goods at Regala Skycity Hotel

It began as a quiet operation to show a bit of care and compassion to Filipino migrant workers in distress, or were stuck in a quarantine hotel for 21 days, lonely and afraid of catching the virus, while barely subsisting on the food supplied to them.

It was also a time of sadness for many of the workers, as they were forced to spend Christmas and the New Year cooped inside a tiny room with only the faltering internet signal serving as their connection to the outside world.

Thus, when word got out that Bishop Gerry Vallo and his Jesus the Living God church was delivering care packs to newly arrived workers spending their compulsory quarantine in government-designated facilities, the requests came flooding in.

Bishop Gerry said he understood exactly how the quarantined workers felt, as he had to undergo mandatory quarantine himself when he returned to Hong Kong after a trip to the Philippines last year. While he spent only 14 days in a quarantine facility and the next 7 days in home quarantine, he still felt tremendous stress.

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Sadyang napakahirap ang lagay sa loob kahit anong sipag mong mag aral, magbasa, manalangin ay so stressful iyon, mentally and emotionally. Kaya nagsimula kami ng 5, 10, 15 na assorted packages. Subalit lalong umigting ang panawagan ng ating mga kababayan na maabot sila nang magka flash report sa The SUN tungkol sa pagbibigay namin ng ayuda. Mahigit 200 ang humingi ng tulong,” he recalled.

(It is really so difficult to be cooped up in a room, no matter how much effort you put into studying, reading and praying – that was really so stressful, mentally and emotionally. So we started giving 5, 10, 15 assorted packages. But the clamor for help intensified after The SUN published a flash report about our gift-giving. More than 200 reached out to us for help).

The long line of gift packs JLG gave to workers at Penny's Bay just before Christmas

Although strapped for resources, JLGC Worldwide could not turn a blind eye to the workers’ appeals for help, many of whom only asked for the most basic needs like fruits, biscuits, juice, 3-in-1 coffee mix, and with the onset of winter, ginger, lemon and salt.

Bishop Gerry said he began to pray, then explained to his congregation why there was a need to help the workers. Soon, the donations started coming in, with people giving $20, $30, $100 until some would hand in $1,000.

Narinig ng Diyos ang aming dalangin at nakita niya ang aming motibo kaya may mga pastor mula Amerika na sumuporta, at may isa ding local Chinese pastor na tumulong kaya’t mahigit 200 na assorted packs of goods and food ang naipamigay namin noong 2021,” he related.

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(God heard our prayers and saw our good intention so there were pastors in the United States who supported us, apart from a local Chinese pastor who also helped so we managed to give away more than 200 assorted packs of goods and food in 2021).

In addition, some of his Filipino pastor-friends would sometimes hand over goods for distribution or even money for transportation. Some of his church’s local partners also donated high-class toiletries to be included in the care packs.

But soliciting donations was just half of the effort. The hard work came with collecting the heavy goods, then taking them to the quarantine facilities which are located in far-off places like Tsing Yi, Shatin and Tung Chung.

Often, when nobody could lend a hand in transporting the goods to their intended recipients, Bishop Gerry would turn to his own family for help, particularly his wife, Pastora Edelyn.

A grateful worker sends a selfie with her gifts from JLG

Until early this month, their itinerary included Penny’s Bay, where one had to make a prior appointment with all the goods to be handed over listed individually. Alternatively, donors could walk in but must be prepared for a longer wait for the goods to be cleared.

But after a couple of trips to the government-run facility, the guards became less strict, even praising the bishop for his charity.

It was during this time that Bishop Gerry realized how hard it must be for some of those who did not know anyone in Hong Kong to reach out to, or whose friends are not inclined to go out of their way to travel far and be subject to strict scrutiny just to hand over some food.

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Kawawa iyong walang koneksyon o kaibigan dahil bago, kasi hindi nila alam kung paano makakakuha ng tulong samantalang yung iba ay tatlo-tatlo ang natatanggap mula sa iba-ibang grupo,” he said.

(I pitied those who did not have connections or friends because they’re new here and did not know how to get help while others got help from various groups).

One other thing that struck him was the unreasonable fear shown by some people in the community towards people who they thought were likely carriers of the coronavirus.

One time, a GoGo van they booked scampered away after learning they were going to a quarantine hotel. They were left scrambling to find a taxi that would take them, while their care packs were strewn all around them.

On Christmas day, more gift-giving by JLG members led by Bishop Gerry

But all these hurdles pale in comparison to the satisfaction Bishop Gerry gets from fulfilling a mission that perfectly aligns with JLGC’s motto, which is Minister to the needy, Evangelize the lost, Equip the saints, and Keep the faith (MEEK).

In fact, now that the arrival of Filipino migrants has slowed down because of the flight ban imposed by Hong Kong on the Philippines, he is thinking of extending help to those on the other side of the fence, or those who are stranded here because of frequent flight cancellations.

He is also looking out to help more of  those who are undergoing emotional and mental distress from the twin challenges of a long confinement and the fear of getting sick and losing the job they badly need.

“Some of our compatriots are so troubled that you cannot help them by merely giving stuff but through prayers and counseling which we are already doing now, even in the wee hours,” he said.

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Asked why he keeps doing what to many would seem like a huge undertaking, Bishop Gerry quoted Matthew 25:42-45:

“For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

(Those who wish to contact Bishop Gerry for counseling and other help may call or text him at 6051 7967)

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