Update on Novel Coronavirus

Author: Dutch Chamber of Commerce

Update May 26th:

The HKSAR Government has launched the “Employment Support Scheme” (ESS) under the second round of the “Anti-epidemic Fund” to provide time-limited financial support to employers to retain employees who may otherwise be made redundant.

Generally speaking, all employers who have been participating in MPF schemes (including Master Trust Schemes and Industry Schemes) will be eligible to apply for wage subsidies. For more detailed information and how to apply, follow this link

Eligible employers and self-employed persons can submit online applications for the first tranche of wage subsidies through the ESS Online Portal at www.ess.gov.hk until 11.59pm on June 14 (Sunday). 


Update May 25th:

Last week ten new cases were announced, all with travel history, which brings the total to 1066. Only 32 were still hospitalised, 4 fatal cases and all others discharged. 

Classes will resume in a gradual manner after almost four months of suspension. Secondary Three to Secondary Five students will return to school on May 27, Primary Four to Secondary Two on June 8, and Kindergarten Three to Primary Three on June 15. International schools have a different school setting, as well as learning and teaching arrangements, 


Update May 18th:

The Government announced on May 17 that PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services Limited (PwC) has been appointed as the central processing agent for implementation of the Employment Support Scheme (ESS). More detailed arrangements about the ESS, including the online application procedures, will follow this week. For enquiries, please email to enquiry@employmentsupport.hk or call the hotline at 183 6122.

Three local transmissions (all in one family) without any travel history detected last week. Together with a few cases with travel history brings the total coronavirus cases to 1056, of which 1024 discharged, 4 fatal and 28 hospitalised.

For more information about the economic relief measures to support businesses and individuals, the HK government has published a booklet

More useful information can be found under the following links:


Update May 11th:

22 days in a row with no local new transmissions. Total coronavirus cases is now 1047 of which 982 discharged, 4 fatal and 62 hospitalised. Some of the social distancing measures have been relaxed since Friday May 8th. Especially the group gathering and in hospitality business, the number of persons allowed has been increased from four to eight persons, where the distance between groups continues to be at least 1.5 metres. 

The registration period for CuMask+™ will last for one month till June 6. Register here.

For more information about the economic relief measures to support businesses and individuals, the HK government has published a booklet


Update May 6th:

Government to distribute free reusable masks to all citizens. The CuMask+™ is developed by the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel. It is a six-layer mask with special ergonomic features. Two of its layers contain copper which is capable of immobilising bacteria, common viruses and other harmful substances. The mask complies with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F2100 Level 1 Standard in terms of particle filtration efficiency (PFE), bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE), resistance to penetration by synthetic blood, flammability and pressure resistance, and is reusable for up to 60 washes. 

The registration period for CuMask+™ will last for one month till June 6. Register here.

For more information about the economic relief measures to support businesses and individuals, the HK government has published a booklet


Update May 4th:

Only two new confirmed cases since last week! Total is now 1039 of which 879 are discharged, 4 fatal and 157 still hospitalised.

With 10 days of almost all zero new cases, the majority of government employees will return to work at their offices starting today, Monday May 4th, while public facilities will partially reopen under the premise that coronavirus regulations governing social gatherings are respected. 


    Update Tuesday April 27th:

    Since last week only 12 new confirmed were cases, which brings the total recorded confirmed cases to 1037. Among these cases, 772 were discharged, 4 cases were fatal and the remaining 261 still hospitalised.

    More stringent measures, like social distancing, temporarily closing of certain venues, inbound travellers testing and quarantine, were introduced since half March. Below chart shows the daily result in confirmed cases.

    social distancing paying off

    For more information about the economic relief measures to support businesses and individuals, the HK government has published a booklet. Latest update on Employment Support Scheme (ESS), more details will follow in May.

    More useful information can be found under the following links:


    Update Tuesday April 20th:

    The social distancing is paying off, since last week only 15 new cases were confirmed which brings the total now to 1026 Covid-19 persons. Among these cases, 602 were discharged and 4 cases were fatal cases. The remaining 420 cases were still hospitalised. HKU Med department has created a real time dashboard with more detailed information.

    For more information about the economic relief measures to support businesses and individuals, the HK government has published a booklet. Latest update on Employment Support Scheme (ESS), more details will follow in May.

    More useful information can be found under the following links:


    Update Tuesday April 14th:

    A total of 1010 confirmed cases has been recorded by CHP till today. Among these cases, 397 were discharged and 4 cases were fatal cases the remaining 609 cases were still hospitalised. The number of cases is declining steadily, which is a good sign the social distancing measures are paying off. HK seems to be handling the outbreak quite good, compared to other places. 

    From April 9, asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving on flights from the UK are required to proceed to the DH's Temporary Specimen Collection Centre (TSCC) at the AsiaWorld-Expo to collect their deep throat saliva samples and wait for the test results there. 

    Last Thursday, April 9th, the Government announced a HK$137.5 billion economic relief package to help enterprises, employees and the public. See our other news articles for more details.


    Update Tuesday April 6th:

    STAY AT HOME AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, PRACTISE SOCIAL DISTANCING AND TOGETHER HELP PREVENT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 IN HONG KONG.

    Latest directions under Prevention and Control of Disease taken effect on Friday April 3rd: All bars and pubs and premises used exclusively or mainly to sell alcohol need to be closed. Furthermore the group gathering with more than four people in public places is still prohibited.

    As of April 5th, a total of 7080 cases fulfilling the reporting criteria of Severe Respiratory Disease associated with a Novel Infectious Agent were reported, of which 6058 cases were ruled out as COVID-19 and 890 confirmed. The remaining 132 cases were still hospitalised for investigation. Among the 890 confirmed cases, 206 were discharged and 4 cases were fatal. 

    The AsiaWorld-Expowill conduct tests for travellers entering Hong Kong with symptoms of upper respiratory symptoms for early identification of COVID-19 cases. It will now also handle all suspected cases referred by the Centre for Health Protection, such as travellers under home quarantine or close contacts of confirmed cases. 

    Q&A on new requirements to reduce gatherings.
    Hong Kong’s multi-pronged response to COVID-19


      Update Tuesday March 30th:

      STAY AT HOME AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, PRACTISE SOCIAL DISTANCING AND TOGETHER HELP PREVENT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 IN HONG KONG. Taken effect on Sunday March 29th, group gatherings with more than four people in public places are prohibited! Find here a link to the Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation.

      As of 28 March 2020 a total of 5862 cases fulfilling the reporting criteria of Severe Respiratory Disease associated with a Novel Infectious Agent were reported, of which 5023 cases were ruled out as COVID-19 and 641 confirmed. The remaining 198 cases were still hospitalised for investigation. Among the 641 confirmed cases, 118 were discharged and 4 cases were fatal. 

      Video on how Hong Kong is coping with Covid-19.


        Update Tuesday March 25th:

        The following measures will be implemented with effect from 00.00am on March 25, tentatively for 14 days:
         

        • All non-Hong Kong residents coming from overseas countries and regions by plane will be denied entry to Hong Kong
        • Non-Hong Kong residents coming from the Mainland, Macao and Taiwan will be denied entry to Hong Kong if they have been to any overseas countries and regions in the past 14 days
        • All transit services at Hong Kong International Airport will be suspended
        • All travellers coming from Macao and Taiwan, including Hong Kong and non-Hong Kong residents, will be subject to a 14-day compulsory quarantine, which is the same as the arrangements for people entering Hong Kong from the Mainland.
           

        Update Monday March 23rd:

        The rapid spread of the virus globally has recently led to a spike in imported cases in Hong Kong, which has the potential to create more locally transmitted cases in Hong Kong. The recent compulsory quarantine for all international returnees is an important pubic health measure to quickly identity any imported cases and to curtail local transmissions. The Government has been enforcing the regulation with full force in the past few days. Unfortunately 41 persons were found to have left their dwelling places without permission, of which 5 have been located and the other 36 were placed on the wanted list. Leaving dwelling places without permission is a criminal offence and offenders are subject to a maximum imprisonment for six months and fine of $25,000. 

        Since 31 December 2019, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health has received reports of a total of 4096 cases fulfilling the reporting criteria of Severe Respiratory Disease. 3327 cases were ruled out as COVID-19 and 317 confirmed. The remaining 452 cases are still hospitalised for investigation. Among the 317 confirmed cases, 213 remain hospitalised, 100 were discharged and 4 were fatal cases.

        Find here a special health advice letter from the CHP to the Hong Kong expatriate community. The government also released a prevention video of Covid-19 in the Workplace.


        Update Monday March 16th:

        The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has reach 149 confirmed, including 1 probably cases, 3 fatal cases and 84 already discharged.

        The Red Outbound Travel Alert is also issued for:

        • Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Principality of Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Republic of Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland)
        • Ireland
        • United Kingdom
        • United States
        • Egypt

        The Department of Health will strengthen health quarantine measures on people arriving from the above countries and demand them to undergo compulsory 14-day home quarantine, regardless of whether they are Hong Kong residents. 

        In general, members of the public are advised to consider delaying all non-essential travel outside Hong Kong. 


        Update Monday March 9nd:

        The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has reach 115 confirmed, including 1 probably cases, 4 fatal cases and 59 already discharged.

        On March 8, the health declaration arrangements at the Hong Kong International Airport were expanded from inbound flights from the Mainland to all flights arriving Hong Kong. The Department of Health has rolled out an electronic health declaration form for the convenience of travellers and to reduce the use of papers. Currently, all travellers on flights arriving Hong Kong from the Mainland can choose to fill in and submit the health declaration form on their smartphone or mobile device.

        Starting  Monday March 9, private doctors can collect respiratory samples from patients presenting with fever or respiratory symptoms, in particular for those with travel history outside Hong Kong within 14 days before onset of symptoms. If samples are tested positive, the CHP will arrange the patients concerned for admission to public hospitals for isolation and treatment. 

        From March 14, all arrivals from below areas, or those who have visited such places in the past 14 days will also be quarantined: Italy whole country, France (regions Bourgogne-Franche-Comte and Grand Est), Germany (region North Rhine-Westphalia), Japan (region Hokkaido), Spain (region La Rioja, Madrid and Basque Country). 
         


        Update Monday March 2nd:

        The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has reach 100 now, including 2 probably cases and 36 already discharged. 

        Government announced that all members of the public who have recently visited a place with active community transmission of COVID-19 should defer blood donation for 28 days from the date of departure. 

        Starting from March 1, quarantine orders have also been issued to people (regardless of whether they are Hong Kong residents) arriving Hong Kong who have been to Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy or Veneto regions in Italy or Iran in the past 14 days.

        As the novel coronavirus epidemic shows no obvious signs of abatement, the Education Bureau (EDB) decided February 26th that classes of all schools will continue to be suspended until April 20 the earliest. The exact date of class resumption is subject to further assessment. 

        The regulation of the compulsory 14-day quarantine period is set to expire on May 7th.


        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.


        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.


        Monday February 3rd

        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: 

        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