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  1. RTHK has learned that the Secretary for Justice, Paul Lam, informed defendants in the case relating to the pan-democratic camp’s Legco primaries in 2020 that their upcoming trial will be conducted without a jury. Lam reportedly said in relevant documents that the case involves external factors and would entail the need to protect the safety of jurors and their family members, and that a jury trial may pose the risk of obstructing the administration of justice. According to the national security law, when the justice secretary issues a certificate for a national security case to be tried without a jury, it will be heard by a panel of three High Court judges. The Judiciary’s website showed that case management hearings will be conducted in September and November for the 47 defendants. In response to media inquiries, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said the secretary for justice would decide whether to issue a certificate for a national security trial without a jury on a case-by-case basis, adding any such arrangements would not affect the legal rights of defendants. The DOJ also said it won’t comment on individual cases. On reports that the primaries case will be tried without a jury, Chief Secretary Eric Chan said on Wednesday, “Because this case is now part of the court proceedings, I do not want to make too much comment on that. I think this is a most appropriate arrangement.”
  2. The government on Wednesday said it will launch a comprehensive review of the city’s hygiene laws to better keep Hong Kong clean. The territory-wide cleanup was the focus of the second round of informal "antechamber talks" at the Legislative Council, held between Chief Secretary Eric Chan and legislators. Speaking to reporters afterwards, the government’s number-two official said authorities will continue to work on fine-tuning the cleanup campaign. His deputy Warner Cheuk, who's overseeing the operation, said there's a need to review hygiene laws. "We will be looking at whether the existing legislation is adequate, in terms of empowering government departments to properly carry out their duties, and also the adequacy of the penalty," he said. "We will take a holistic view, and if necessary, we will propose changes to existing legislation, or even we will explore the prospect of enacting a new legislation." In response, the DAB said officials need to prioritise certain areas when considering law changes. For example, the party said keeping construction waste off the streets should top the agenda. One of its lawmakers, Elizabeth Quat, also proposed tapping into smart technology to gauge the effectiveness of the cleanup operation. "My suggestion is to have the Hong Kong government build a platform... to let citizens report directly to the app, to capture images about the cleanliness of every single street," she said. Jeffrey Lam from the Business and Professionals Alliance, meanwhile, said authorities should install monitor systems not only in back alleys, but across all 18 districts of the city.
  3. Chief Executive John Lee said on Wednesday that the government will ensure that it “keeps the economy going” as it continues to rein in the Covid outbreak. Giving a speech at the Hong Kong Summit, he said he understands the importance of keeping Hong Kong connected to the world and ensuring the city’s competitiveness, while safeguarding public health and people’s livelihood. Lee also told the business sector that he’s aware of their wish to resume normal travel with the mainland. “I hear you clearly. But I must stress that connecting with the world and connecting with the mainland are in no way contradictory to each other,” he said. “On the latter, we have been maintaining good liaison with the mainland counterparts. We support and respect the mainland’s anti-epidemic strategy and maintain cooperation in joint prevention and control. “My preliminary goal is to reduce the degree of inconvenience to travellers without bringing about additional risks to the mainland’s epidemic situation." Meanwhile, Lee’s deputy, Chief Secretary Eric Chan, said the government will further relax Covid travel restrictions if conditions allow, adding that talks on resuming quarantine-free travel with the mainland are ongoing. "We've been discussing actively with mainland authorities on how to resume the quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong and the mainland. We will make announcements at suitable occasions," Chan told reporters after attending an “antechamber meeting” with legislators. Several lawmakers, including the DAB's Ben Chan, said some Hong Kong students have been unable to travel to the mainland to study because of the quarantine requirements there. "They received their offer in mainland universities. However, they cannot reserve the quarantine hotel [on] the mainland," Chan said, noting that the government is following up on his party’s suggestion of letting those bound for the mainland isolate in the SAR first before crossing the border. The Federation of Trade Unions also said it’s reached out to central and local authorities to reflect the students' needs. ______________________________ Last updated: 2022-08-17 HKT 15:22
  4. The operator of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal said on Wednesday that it will take between three to six months to bring cruises back to Hong Kong, with many major operators already setting itineraries that bypassed the SAR in the months and years ahead. Jeff Bent, managing director of Worldwide Cruise Terminals, told RTHK's Hong Kong Today programme that only Royal Caribbean was still here and pushing to get so-called 'cruises-to-nowhere' restarted. The mini-cruises, which start and end in Hong Kong, have been suspended since February, but travel industry representatives met health officials on Tuesday to discuss their possible resumption. However, Bent told RTHK's Samantha Butler that restarting cruises to other destinations would be more complicated and operators would need transparent Covid policies, including details of when voyages would be suspended after cases are detected, before operating from Hong Kong again. "The rest of the world basically treats Covid as the flu now and, in general, the only requirements related to Covid are either you are fully vaccinated or you take a test before embarking, and there aren't any other conditions for sailing," Bent said. "So the cruise lines that went from being in a very fluid position now have itineraries planned out for their ships for the next several years. So it'll be much harder for us to bring a ship to Hong Kong now, especially if our policies are not aligned with the rest of the world." Cruise tourism grew strongly in Hong Kong prior to the pandemic and the 2019 social unrest. A paper to the Legislative Council in 2019 said the number of passengers passing through the SAR's cruise terminals grew from 190,000 in 2013 to 900,000 in 2017. However international cruises have been suspended since early 2020 after high-profile Covid outbreaks involving cruise ships. One major operator, Genting Hong Kong, filed for liquidation in January.
  5. A paediatric specialist has called on parents to keep a close eye on their children who are infected with Covid, saying hospitals are seeing more croup cases as well as a post-Covid condition that could put them into an intensive care unit. Children who have croup may suffer from breathing difficulties and make a noisy, high-pitched sound as the condition leads to swelling that narrows their airways. Dr Mike Kwan, a consultant in the Paediatric Infectious Diseases Unit of Princess Margaret Hospital, said they are now seeing a new croup case every day or two. He also urged parents to be vigilant even after their children recover from Covid-19, saying they may suffer from an after effect that could require critical care in hospital. Kwan said nearly 60 children had been diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) two to eight weeks after they had been confirmed to have Covid. He said symptoms of MIS-C patients include high fever, skin rash, pink eye and a swollen and bumpy tongue - known as strawberry tongue. Kwan said MIS-C could affect the patient's heart, brain, liver and kidneys. "This condition is actually quite serious and can be life-threatening. And in Hong Kong around half the children needed to be admitted to the paediatric intensive care unit, and treated with high-dose steroid and also intravenous immunoglobulin," he said. Fortunately, all children who had MIS-C were recovering nicely, the specialist added, although the Hospital Authority would offer follow-up services to see whether the illness would cause any long-term complications. "This condition warrants long-term follow up, and we are planning to follow up on these children in the Hong Kong Children's Hospital." Kwan appealed to parents to get their children vaccinated against Covid, saying most of those who've developed MIS-C had not had jabs. He also revealed that a girl previously infected with the coronavirus has been suffering from brief loss of vision once or twice a day. "This is a temporary visual loss that happens around 10 to 30 seconds each time, which quite affects her daily life. Now we are working with multiple specialists to try to help this girl," he said. While doctors have yet to establish the cause of her vision problem, the specialist suspects it could be that the coronavirus has affected her central nervous system. The girl, he said, is one of the 288 children he's seeing who were previously infected with Covid. Kwan said a fifth of them had developed at least one long-term symptom of the virus, like headaches, hives or serious hair loss.
  6. The government on Tuesday issued compulsory testing notices for 65 places across Hong Kong. Anyone who has visited any of these premises and stayed there for the length of time and on the dates specified must get a nucleic acid test for Covid-19. The residential buildings are located in Fanling, Tai Po, Sheung Shui, Yuen Long, Tung Chung, Chai Wan, Tsuen Wan, Hung Hom, Shek Kip Mei, Kwun Tong, Tseung Kwan O, Shau Kei Wan, Yau Tong, Wong Tai Sin, Sha Tin, Lam Tin, Ngau Chi Wan, Tuen Mun, Tin Shui Wai, Tai Wai, Ma On Shan, Kowloon City, Causeway Bay, Tsing Yi, Kwai Chung, Cheung Sha Wan, Sai Wan Ho, and Quarry Bay. One location – in Sha Tin – was also issued with compulsory testing notices after sewage samples tested positive for Covid-19. The Centre for Health Protection recorded 5,162 Covid cases on Tuesday, of which 272 were imported. ______________________________ A full list of the buildings and premises issued with testing notices can be found here: https://www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/ctn_20220816.pdf
  7. Police said on Tuesday they had arrested 19 people on suspicion of money laundering in a case involving some HK$100 million. Chief Inspector Wong Chi-tang of the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau said the suspects, aged between 28 and 67, were linked to an illegal gambling syndicate busted by the force in May. He said the 13 men and six women allegedly used their bank accounts for money laundering and asked gamblers who had lost money to open accounts in order to offset their debts. Wong said the suspects were also believed to have lured others online to sell or rent out their bank accounts for money laundering. He said one bank account could be sold for between HK$500 and HK$2,000. A total of 22 bank accounts were involved in the case, he said. The officer said the investigation was ongoing and more people might be arrested.
  8. A parkour coach on Tuesday advised against training on rooftops, a day after a teenager was believed to have plunged to his death while doing the extreme sport atop a building in Tsim Sha Tsui. Lo Chun-chung from the Hong Kong Parkour Association has been teaching the sport for more than a decade. He told RTHK training is usually done in playgrounds or parks, but some people have misunderstood the sport after seeing popular online videos. He said a lot of people are unaware of the behind-the-scenes preparations in a lot of the parkour videos they see . "The most popular videos show the best of the performers; and most people don't completely know the preparation and how they train and how they practice before they film the videos, so this may cause misunderstanding," Lo said. Training in playgrounds or parks, he added, often involves a parkour practitioner - or traceur - trying to move between obstacles quickly by running or jumping without equipment to assist them. "The obstacles there are more crowded so we can practice different techniques in the same place," he explained, adding that the presence of a coach and a companion is advisable. Lo said even the simplest tricks in parkour may involve years of training and traceurs have to familiarise themselves with the obstacles before each performance. "We need to practice our agility and our body control to adapt to the environment." The coach also said obstacles should be checked for their stability and potential danger, such as sharp edges, before any parkour training or performance.
  9. Cathay Pacific said on Tuesday easing quarantine arrangements for inbound travellers are expected to boost its business in the near future, but the airline also spoke about the difficulty of adding passenger capacity under current Covid rules for aircrew. In a statement, Cathay said it carried almost 220,000 passengers in July, about four times that of the figure from a year ago. The July figure was also up 46 percent from the month before. But passengers numbers were still down 93.3 percent from pre-pandemic levels. "The latest adjustments to quarantine arrangements for passengers arriving in Hong Kong are expected to have a positive impact on inbound traffic as well as leisure travel among Hong Kong residents. Student traffic to the US and UK is also expected to provide our travel business with a strong boost in August and September," said Ronald Lam, Cathay's chief customer and commercial officer, in a statement. "However, our ability to add more passenger flight capacity will remain limited unless the restrictions on our aircrew are lifted." Currently, locally-based flight crews are subject to medical surveillance and mandatory quarantine upon arrival, coupled with repeated Covid testing. Meanwhile, Cathay said it carried about 100,710 tonnes of cargo last month, a decrease of 17.2 percent year on year. Lam said cargo demand remained flat in July in many of Cathay's key markets. "We expect to operate a full freighter schedule in August and going forward, complemented by regional cargo-only passenger flights and more belly capacity provided by our additional passenger services. However, long-haul cargo-only passenger flights will be limited." On the outlook for cargo operation, Lam said, "We are cautiously optimistic about a solid seasonal winter peak season, although this is anticipated to be less pronounced than the one we experienced in 2021 in light of the current global economic environment."
  10. Hong Kong on Tuesday recorded 4,890 new local Covid cases and 11 new deaths. There were also 272 imported infections. Health officials said 1,813 patients were being treated at hospital, including nine under intensive care. A chief manager at the Hospital Authority, Lau Ka-hin, said the condition of a toddler who was admitted for intensive care the day before after suffering from a complication called croup has improved. The 27-month-old boy is now in stable condition. Among the latest deaths was an 88-year-old woman who tested positive on July 23 and was subsequently prescribed anti-Covid drugs. She tested negative on August 2 via rapid antigen tests. But she still experienced symptoms afterwards, so she sought treatment at a private hospital on August 5 and was found to still contain the virus. The patient was then transferred to the accident and emergency department of Ruttonjee Hospital where she died on Monday. In light of the case, Lau called on Covid patients who are aged 60 or above to see a doctor even if they have no or mild symptoms and to get anti-Covid medication. He added people who still experience symptoms after they finish the medication should see a doctor again. Meanwhile, Lau noted that more than 200 Covid patients have been admitted to hospital each day in the past week, and said non-emergency services will be affected if the trend continues. “How can we arrange the best for the increasing number of patients admitted to the hospital? We have to re-adjust our services. We try to postpone some services that the patients may not be affected too much, for example some elective surgery, some elective endoscopy as well as some elective radiological examination.” ______________________________ USEFUL LINKS General Covid-19 situation: https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/ Community Clinics for Covid-19 patients: https://bit.ly/3a4BZFE RAT reporting platform: https://www.chp.gov.hk/ratp/ Vaccination programme: https://www.covidvaccine.gov.hk/sen/ Vaccination pass scheme: https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/vaccine-pass.html Hotline for Covid-positive patients: 1836 115

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