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The fourth wave of the COVID-19 epidemic has lasted for some time. To our great relief, the number of local confirmed cases has remained at low levels in recent days. The Government's multi-pronged strategy of continuously enhancing our anti-epidemic measures and preventing the importation of cases has proven effective.   Apart from keeping social distancing measures in place and mounting an extensive promotion of testing, we have specifically strengthened the manpower in contact tracing as this is a particularly crucial measure in cutting the chains of viral transmission.   The Department of Health's Contact Tracing Office has redoubled its efforts in speeding up the process of identifying close contacts. Their sterling efforts in contact tracing in the gym cluster last month have significantly helped in suppressing rebounds within a number of days. This was a remarkable success.   For this, I must thank all those who have helped, including some 200 colleagues seconded f

HKO forecasts up to 8 typhoons

Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) Director Cheng Cho-ming today said he expects five to eight tropical cyclones to hit Hong Kong this year.   Presenting the weather outlook at a press briefing this afternoon, Mr Cheng noted it is difficult to predict the strength of the tropical cyclones.   “You asked whether these will be severe or not. I think it is difficult to say because it really depends on how close they will come to Hong Kong and how strong they will be. So it really depends on the situation, for example, whether they will intensify or whether they will come very close to Hong Kong.   “So there are a number of factors that will affect whether or not they will severely affect us.”   He added that the HKO forecasts tropical cyclone season to begin in June for Hong Kong.   “The start time of the typhoon season varies from year to year. For this year, we expect it will be June or earlier.   “Of course, for the general public, we need to be aware that we may soon expect some development of tropical cyclones. So everyone should be on the alert and look out for the latest information or warning issued by the Hong Kong Observatory.”   Reviewing last year’s weather, the Observatory noted that Hong Kong had its second warmest year since records began, with an annual mean temperature of 24.4 degrees Celsius.   Mr Cheng also announced that the HKO will incorporate a “Probability of Significant Rain” forecast into its nine-day weather forecast from today.   Starting from the second quarter of this year, the Observatory will provide basic weather information on its website in eight ethnic minority languages. It will launch the “Localised Heavy Rain Advisory” service in the same quarter.   A trial feature “My Weather Observation” on the MyObservatory mobile application will be rolled out to enable the public to report special weather phenomena.   On public education, an interactive e-book titled Tour of Tropical Cyclones will be launched for children.   A thematic webpage for the 100th anniversary of upper-air meteorological measurements by the HKO will also be set up to introduce the history.   Mr Cheng announced at the briefing that the HKO Open Day will be held online this year in view of the latest developments of the COVID-19 epidemic. The related webpage will be launched on March 26.   The Observatory will also host a live-streaming event on the webpage and its Facebook page on March 27, which will feature a sand painting performance to promote messages on climate change and extreme weather.   Results of the 2016-2020 Top 10 Mind-boggling Weather & Climate Events Selection online polling campaign will also be announced at the event.
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