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Monday, February 24, 2020, 08:48
HK goes all-out in fighting virus
By Willa Wu and Zhao Ruinan in Hong Kong
Monday, February 24, 2020, 08:48 By Willa Wu and Zhao Ruinan in Hong Kong

New People’s Party Chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee (second right), one of the members of a community alliance formed to fight the novel coronavirus, delivers face masks to the elderly at Siu Sai Wan Estate on Sunday morning. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

The city’s government, together with volunteers from various backgrounds, have stepped forward to help Hong Kong people win the battle against the novel coronavirus, which has claimed two lives and infected 74 in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong government will establish a special committee next week to supervise the disbursement of the HK$30 billion (US$3.85 billion) fund for the relief of small businesses and underprivileged individuals hardest-hit by the coronavirus outbreak, Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said in his weekly blog.

Cheung, the city’s No 2 official, said he will chair the committee, whose major aim is to simplify the application process so that assistance can be dispensed without unnecessary delays.

Cheung said that about HK$17 billion of the fund will be allocated to hard-hit individuals and businesses in the retail, catering, transportation, cultural and tourism sectors, while HK$10 billion will be budgeted for the upgrade of government’s capability to combat the virus. The remaining portion will be retained for emergency use.

The fund, which covers 24 items, was ratified by an overwhelming majority of the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee on Friday.

Cheung said that the government will continue to closely monitor the spread of the epidemic while listening attentively to experts’ advice to make necessary decisions without hesitation.

Also on Sunday, Hong Kong Community Anti-Coronavirus Link, a community alliance gathering volunteers from political, business and trade, as well as medical sectors, handed out more than 1 million surgical masks to the elderly and the underprivileged across Hong Kong.

Attending the event were legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and Ko Wing-man, former secretary for food and health, who urged joint efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, while one of the conveners of the alliance, So Ching-wing, said the alliance is seeking ways to order medical supplies all over the world to help front-line medical workers and residents.

Previously, the alliance has distributed 600,000 free surgical masks to elderly and vulnerable groups.

The city had recorded 74 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus pneumonia as of Sunday. One of the four new cases confirmed on Sunday involved a man who was among the over 200 Hong Kong passengers evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, moored in Japan. The 68-year-old developed a fever after flying back to the city on a government-chartered flight.

Another two had both visited the Fook Wai Ching She, a Buddhist temple in North Point. A 96-year-old woman was confirmed infected with the coronavirus on Saturday. She had visited the same temple multiple times in January and February.

Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Communicable Disease Branch of the Centre for Health Protection, said 30 residents who had been to the temple have called the center. Five of them indicated that they did not feel well and were sent to hospitals, while about 10 others were quarantined.

Contact the writers at willa@chinadailyhk.com

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