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Govt employees to work from home again as Covid outbreak turns severe

03 February 2022

By The SUN


From Feb 4, only drop-in emergency visa applications will be accepted by Immigration

All government employees except those providing essential services will go back to working from home starting Friday, Feb 4 until Feb 11, amid fears of a mass outbreak of Covid-19 infections.

A statement issued Thursday by the Civil Service Bureau said, “Save for those involved in the provision of emergency services and essential public services and in anti-epidemic efforts, other government employees will be arranged to work from home.”

The Bureau called on employers in the private sectors to also allow their staff to work from home in order to cut down on the number of people on the streets and minimize social contacts among them.

The government also said more restrictive social distancing measures may be taken “in light of the deteriorating Covid-19 situation in Hong Kong.”


As of now, the government says it is working to increase the testing capacity of both public and private laboratories from about 100,000 tests to 200,000 before mid-February.

In addition, it will closely monitor cases and sewage surveillance results so it could order lockdowns and compulsory testing notices as needed.

There will also be further mass distribution of home test kits for Covid-19 to residents in high-risk districts.


Another measure that will be taken is to adjust isolation and quarantine facilities when necessary to prevent the possible mass outbreak of Covid-19 cases from paralysing the local healthcare system.

The statement noted the three-digit rise in the number of new infections in Hong Kong which started with 115 on Jan 28 and rose slightly to 121 on Feb 3.

Although the overall increase in the infection tally may not be significant, it said the number of cases with unknown sources has risen from six to 31 per day, and has now exceeded 100 overall. At the same time, the number of sewage samples that tested positive has risen from 11 on Jan 28 to 21 on Feb 2.

The government said these indicate that various silent transmission chains are still active in the community, even though the mass outbreak in Kwai Chung district – which totaled more than 400 in a  matter of days, has subsided.


What is particularly worrying, said the statement, is that the silent transmissions are now spreading to various districts in Hong Kong, and cases have been increasing as a result.

Further, it is not just the high transmissible Omicron variant, especially its BA.2 form, which is giving cause for concern, but also the continuous stream of local cases involving the more lethal Delta strain.

The statement cited the case of an unvaccinated elderly woman found with Delta strain who turned critically ill and had to be moved to intensive case.

“With Hong Kong facing the threat of both mutant strains, the outlook for epidemic development is not optimistic,” said the statement.  


Since the start of the fifth wave of infections in late December, the government said a series of anti-epidemic measures have been implemented, including the restoration of the most stringent social distancing measures. 

However, people flow within Hong Kong has dropped by just about 20 percent in recent days as compared with the 30-50 per cent decline during the previous waves. And despite repeated warnings, a number of people still engaged in many social activities during the Chinese New Year. 

“The Delta and Omicron mutant strains are spreading in the community at the same time, posing unprecedented threat to Hong Kong. The epidemic situation of the fifth wave may be more severe than that of the previous four waves,” said the statement.

“Members of the public are urged to stay vigilant, wear masks properly and get vaccinated as early as possible in order to greatly reduce the risk of falling seriously ill and death when infected.”

Among the government offices that will cut down on its services in the next week is the Immigration Department, including its foreign domestic helpers section.

A statement from the Department said only drop-in applications for emergency visa extensions will be entertained during this period, and the applicant should provide a local phone number so staff from the relevant departments can contact them afterwards.

For more details on changes to Immigration’s office and service hours, please check this link:



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