Update on Novel Coronavirus

Author: Dutch Chamber of Commerce

Update Monday February 24th:

Since last week's update, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 74 in Hong Kong, of which 60 are still hospitalised, 12 were discharged and 2 were fatal cases. 

The special work arrangement for government departments is extended until March 1st in order to reduce social contacts and the risk of the spread of the novel coronavirus in the community. 

A Local Mask Production Subsidy Scheme under the Anti-epidemic Fund has been announced to facilitate the establishment of mask production lines in Hong Kong as soon as possible. The Government welcomes applications from all organisations interested in establishing mask production lines in Hong Kong. To be eligible for a subsidy from the Government, a production line must satisfy a number of stringent conditions. See press release.

More useful information can be found under the following links:


Update Monday February 17th:

Since 31 December 2019 and as of 17 February 2020, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) has received reports of a total of 1,534 cases fulfilling the reporting criteria of Severe Respiratory Disease associated with a Novel Infectious Agent, including 57 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) and 1,341 cases ruled out as novel coronavirus infection. The remaining 136 cases are still hospitalised for investigation. Among the 57 confirmed cases, 54 remained hospitalised, two have been discharged, while the remaining case was a fatal case. So far, there is no sign of a community outbreak in HK. 

Last week the Chief Executive announced that the HKSAR Government will more than double its dedicated fund to fight the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to HK$25 billion. Mrs Lam also outlined 21 funding measures,  including ensuring necessary resources for frontline medical staff, boost supply of surgical masks, promote local production of surgical masks, support various sectors such as tourism, food and beverage, retail and property management etc. 


    Update Monday February 10th: 

    As of February 7th, the Government's appeal to employers in the private sector to also introduce flexible work arrangements for staff to reduce risk of spread of novel coronavirus in community,  has been extended by another week until February 16th.

    With effect from February 8th, persons arriving in Hong Kong from the Mainland will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period. To ensure sufficient supply of food and supplies in Hong Kong, the Chief Secretary for Administration will, according to the Regulation, exempt certain categories of people from the quarantine requirement. See press release for details.

    The most recent update from Hong Kong’s Department of Health (dated February 9th, 2020) refers to thirty-six confirmed cases, in Hong Kong.


    Dear Members and friends of DutchCham,

    As you are aware, there is high attention by the local authorities to the Novel Coronavirus outbreak and different measures have been introduced. As DutchCham, we see it as one of our main roles to facilitate the sharing of essential information about this virus and how it affects the Dutch business community in Hong Kong. At the time of writing, the most recent update from Hong Kong’s Department of Health (dated February 3rd, 2020) refers to fifteen confirmed cases, all but one relate to individuals who have recently arrived from Mainland China. The impact of the disease has also affected schools being closed until March 2 and many work places instructing staff to work from home as far as possible. Given the tight supply of surgical masks, the HKSAR government appeals to members of the public to go out less and pay attention to personal hygiene to reduce the use of surgical masks. 

    Despite the serious situation, DutchCham aims to maintain as much of a business as usual approach as possible. We will monitor events and update our assessment if and as necessary. 

    Many of our member companies have informed us of precautionary measures taken by their companies, like: 

    • Work from home until February 9th , then reassess situation;
    • All staff returning from Mainland China should work from home for 14 days from their date of return to Hong Kong;
    • No business travel to Mainland China unless absolutely necessary;
    • When coming to the office, wear masks on commutes and clean hands directly after entering the office.

    Most importantly, it is essential that you stay informed in order to make fact-based decisions for yourself, your families and your companies.

     

    The HKSAR advises to prevent pneumonia and respiratory tract infection, members of the public should always maintain good personal and environmental hygiene. Everybody is advised to:
    • Wear a surgical mask when taking public transport or staying in crowded places. It is important to wear a mask properly, including 
    hand hygiene before wearing and after removing a mask;
    • Perform hand hygiene frequently, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes; after touching public installations such as handrails or door knobs; or when hands are contaminated by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing;
    • Maintain drainage pipes properly and regularly (about once a week) pour about half a liter of water into each drain outlet (U-traps) to ensure environmental hygiene;
    • Wash hands with liquid soap and water, and rub for at least 20 seconds. Then rinse with water and dry with a disposable paper towel. If hand washing facilities are not available, or when hands are not visibly soiled, performing hand hygiene with 70 to 80 per cent alcohol-based handrub is an effective alternative;
    • Cover your mouth and nose with tissue paper when sneezing or coughing. Dispose of soiled tissues into a lidded rubbish bin, then wash hands thoroughly; and
    • When having respiratory symptoms, wear a surgical mask, refrain from work or attending class at school, avoid going to crowded places and seek medical advice promptly.

    More useful information can be found under the following links:

    Please make sure your company’s qualified staff (such as HR/admin/general management) is up to date on any government recommendations. 

     

    We hope you find this information helpful.

    DutchCham Office team