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CS hails new electoral system

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

Infection control at gyms tightened

The Government today announced that it will tighten infection control measures in fitness centres from March 12 for a period of six days till March 17.   People in the fitness centres will be required to wear a mask at all times, except when having a shower or consuming food or drink at a table in catering premises. Other requirements currently in place will remain unchanged.   The Food & Health Bureau explained that in view of the recent large-scale coronavirus outbreak in fitness centres, it had to tighten infection control measures with immediate effect to contain the COVID-19 epidemic, in particular reinstating the mask-on requirement.   In all circumstances, particularly in an indoor setting, not wearing a mask is a high-risk behaviour and is prone to virus infection or transmission.   The bureau also pointed out that the first case of the fitness centre cluster was detected through regular testing required under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Requirements & Directions) (Business & Premises) Regulation.   It stated that many of the confirmed cases in this cluster were in good health all along and did not show any symptoms when they were confirmed positive for COVID-19.   This demonstrated that high-risk groups such as staff of fitness centres and other scheduled premises who have frequent contact with others should undergo regular testing in order to break the transmission chain in the community successfully.   The Government announced earlier that all staff of scheduled premises, including those of fitness centres, were included as a vaccination priority group under the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme.   Relevant staff are urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible as a higher proportion of people receiving vaccination in the community will strengthen the control of the epidemic situation, thus creating the conditions for relaxing social distancing measures.   The bureau appealed to fitness centres to strictly comply with the requirements, including arranging for their staff to undergo testing once every 14 days. They can make an appointment for free testing at a community testing centre.   The Government emphasised that it will closely monitor the epidemic development and the compliance situation of infection control measures by fitness centres.   It added that if necessary, it would not exclude the possibility of adopting more stringent measures to contain the epidemic, including requiring fitness centre staff to undergo testing at more frequent intervals or the closure of all fitness centres.   Managers of fitness centres who contravene the statutory requirements under the regulation are subject to a maximum fine of $50,000 and six months’ imprisonment.
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