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CE says Covid-19 spread ‘really critical’ as she orders govt staff to work from home

19 July 2020

By The SUN

CE Lam ramps up public health measures amid a 'really critical' Covid-19 situation in HK
Civil servants providing non-emergency services will go back to working from home starting on Monday, as the number of Covid-19 cases surged to 108 in just eight hours yesterday, a single-day record.

The work from home arrangement was part of tough new measures announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam earlier today, Jul 19, in response to what she called as the “really critical” situation in Hong Kong right now.

“I think the situation is really critical and there is no sign the situation is being brought under control,” she said in an emergency briefing attended by her top officials.
She said the local situation mirrors what is happening in other parts of the world where the outbreak shows no sign of easing.

But she rejected a suggestion that all of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents be tested, as what has been done in some countries.

“To us, at the moment, that is not very realistic because we do not have that testing capacity,” she said.

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Another new rule is to require the wearing of masks in all indoor public spaces like supermarkets and wet markets.

Students who took the DSE should not go back to their schools to pick up their results which are due out on Wednesday, and should just do so online.

She also said university applications should be done online as much as possible.

The CE also announced special infection-control measures, including the thorough cleansing and disinfection of 12 wet markets across Kowloon, identified as one of the high-risk factors in the latest outbreak.
Collection centres have been set up  to collect specimen samples from high risk individuals like taxi drivers
The new steps also include setting up specimen collection centres at different spots in the city to collect swab samples from high-risk individuals including taxi drivers, staff at restaurants, elderly care homes and property management firms.
Lam announced a further one-week extension of new restrictions announced on Jul 15, including allowing only a maximum of four people to gather in public, banning dine-in at restaurants after 6pm, and closing down 12 types of venues, including bars and gyms.

That time, the CE ruled out directing civil servants to go back to working from home, saying the government was providing essential services.

Asked about the turnaround, Civil Service Secretary Patrick Nip said: “Of course, that will have an impact on people, on the provision of services, but I think that’s the price we have to pay at this juncture.”

The government first ordered the work-from-home arrangement for government personnel in mid-February, when the coronavirus outbreak started getting severe. But during that so-called second wave of the outbreak, the total number of cases in a day rarely went past 50.

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