April 21 - 27, 2020
Hong Kong continues to fight COVID-19
There were no new confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded in Hong Kong on Apr 27, according to the Centre for Health Protection (CHP). This marked the second consecutive day with no new confirmed cases recorded and the 16th straight day of single-digit or no new cases. The total number of confirmed cases in Hong Kong remains at 1,037 so far. Despite the recent significant drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases, the Hong Kong SAR Government will remain alert and will continue to listen to the views of the experts and various sectors and constantly adjust the “Suppress and Lift” strategy with the aim of achieving the optimal level of controls at all times, wrote Chief Executive Carrie Lam. The Government will continue to make an all-out effort to keep the city’s workers employed, relieve the financial burden of businesses and members of the public, and pave the way for post-epidemic economic recovery.
Social distancing measures updated
With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong stabilizing , the Secretary for Food and Health has suspended the requirement for the number of customers in catering business premises to be below 50% of the normal seating capacity of the premises. However, tables must be kept 5-feet (1.5 meters) apart or separated by partitions. To safeguard against any sudden turn in the COVID-19 situation, all other implemented requirements regarding catering business, scheduled premises and prohibition of group gathering has been extended for another 14 days till May 7. Leisure and sports venues, along with other establishments such as bars, pubs, beauty salons, karaoke bars and fitness centers would remain closed until then.
Advanced disinfection technologies at Hong Kong airport
The Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) is applying the latest disinfection technologies , including disinfection channels, antimicrobial coating, and autonomous cleaning robots, at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to protect passengers and airport staff from COVID-19 infection. HKIA is the world’s first airport where a full-body disinfection channel facility has been deployed for staff who take part in public health and quarantine duties at the airport in relation to arriving passengers. The AA is also conducting a pilot test of applying an antimicrobial coating at all passenger facilities. After completion of the trial in May, the AA will consider implementing it as a long term disinfection measure. In addition, autonomous cleaning robots are also being deployed to ensure thorough disinfection of public areas and passenger facilities in HKIA.
Funding for COVID-19 research approved
Under the Health and Medical Research Fund, funding totaling US$14.2 million (HK$111 million) has been approved to support the two medical schools, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong, to conduct 26 medical research studies on COVID-19. The funding will support research studies covering the development of vaccines and novel antiviral drug candidates; sero-epidemiological studies of the virus in the community; investigation into the properties, characteristics, spread, infection and effective therapeutic interventions of the virus that causes COVID-19; and investigation into Hong Kong’s system of early detection, assessment and response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The studies will last from 12 to 24 months.
All local mask production lines fully allocated
The Hong Kong SAR Government has approved the remaining seven production lines under the Local Mask Production Subsidy Scheme (Apr 24). Together with the 13 production lines approved earlier, the quota of 20 production lines has been fully allocated. Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau said this was a significant milestone for the scheme. Noting the need for children's masks, he said the Hong Kong SAR Government will designate one production line for children’s masks. The other 19 subsidized production lines will continue to produce masks for adults. It is estimated that when all 20 lines are in full production, they will collectively provide 34.55 million masks and 8.15 million masks to the Government and the local market respectively each month.
Flights planned for Hong Kong people
The Security Bureau is mapping out plans to bring Hong Kong residents stranded in India and Pakistan back to Hong Kong by chartered flights, following requests for assistance from these residents to return to Hong Kong. The Hong Kong SAR Government has been liaising with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in Hong Kong, the Chinese Embassy in the Republic of India and the Chinese Embassy in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan along with the consulates-general of the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in Hong Kong to explore flight arrangements to bring the stranded residents back to the city. Both India and Pakistan have banned all international flights since late March due to the coronavirus outbreak.
New principal officials appointed
The State Council, on the recommendation by the Chief Executive Carrie Lam, approved (Apr 22) the appointment of five Principal Officials. They are Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip, Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui, Secretary for Constitutional & Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang, Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Christopher Hui and Secretary for Innovation & Technology Alfred Sit. Expressing confidence that they would lead their respective policy bureaux to rise to the challenges in serving the community, the Chief Executive said with her new political team, she hopes to start immediately planning for Hong Kong’s economic recovery , especially in such sectors as financial services, innovation and technology, professional services and the creative industries and the many opportunities that will be available to Hong Kong under the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Revised capital rules under Banking Ordinance gazetted
The Banking Rules were gazetted (Apr 24) to implement the latest international standards on banking regulations. A Hong Kong SAR Government spokesperson said that the continued implementation of Basel III standard underlines Hong Kong’s commitment to bring the financial hub's regulatory regime in line with the latest international standards. It will further enhance the resilience of banks and contribute to the overall stability of the banking system in Hong Kong. The rules will come into operation on June 30, 2021.
US Dollar liquidity facility set at US$10 billion
In light of the volatilities and uncertainties in the global financial markets brought by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced (Apr 22) the launch of a temporary US Dollar Liquidity Facility to help alleviate tightness in the global US dollar interbank money markets. A total of US$10 billion is currently available at the Facility. Beginning May 6, the HKMA will conduct a tender every week with a minimum of US$100 million per valid bid and an integral multiple of US$100 million.
  • Total exports decreased to US$41.4 billion (HK$323.6 billion) in March, down 5.8% year-on-year. The value of imports of goods decreased 11.1% to US$45.9 billion (HK$358.4 billion) for the same period. March’s trade deficit was US4.4 billion (HK$34.7 billion), or 9.7% of the value of imports.
  • Overall consumer prices rose 2.3% year-on-year in March, compared to the average increase of 1.8% in January and February. The month saw year-on-year increases for food, meals bought away from home, (housing, transport, miscellaneous goods and services.
Hong Kong and its Basic Law
The Basic Law (BL) is the constitutional document of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Put into effect on July 1, 1997, it enshrines within a legal document the important concept of “One Country, Two Systems". 

Q: Has there been any interference in the independence of the Judiciary?
A: No. Hong Kong’s robust and respected court system exercises judicial power independently, free from any interference. The power of final adjudication is vested in the Court of Final Appeal of the HKSAR, which may as required invite judges from other common law jurisdictions to sit on the Court of Final Appeal. The principle of trial by jury previously practised in Hong Kong is maintained. ( BL Articles 2; 19; 81; 82; 85; 86 )

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