HK tourism workers stage protest to call on social stability

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 11, 2019   •   433

Tourism workers in China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) staged a protest on Tuesday by driving buses slowly, calling on social stability and economic recovery.

Over 60 tour buses gathered at Shing Kai Road in Kowloon on Tuesday morning and the protest began at around 10:30.

The tourism industry in Hong Kong is experiencing a chilly winter with sluggish business, as the city is losing inland tourist arrivals due to weeks of violence.

“My drivers have gained nothing for three consecutive months,” said Chou Chih-hsiung, a bus operator.

“I hope things could be quenched as soon as possible so as to restore peace in Hong Kong. Then our tourism industry could resume business operation as soon as possible. We should promote Hong Kong and recover it as before, so that people would feel that Hong Kong is the safest city and the best destination of tourism,” said Wen Kuan-ch’eng, a tourism worker.

According to the data released by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, inbound tourists to Hong Kong dropped by about 40 percent in August year on year. Recently, Hong Kong’s tour bus drivers, tour guides and other tourism workers have earned less and even experienced laid-offs.Hong Kong tourism practitioners are eager to see the society returns to peace as soon as possible.

“This industry is indeed hit heavily. All of us. Even mine is a medium-sized travel agency, it still has few tour groups to handle,” said Chuang Hui, a tourism worker.

“The most important thing is that this is not our will. We don’t like these riots to destroy the society. We hope the things are quenched as soon as possible, and then we will do some work to rekindle tourists’ confidence to come to Hong Kong,” said Dicky Yip, chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Practitioners’ Union.

Now “ending the chaos and restoring order” has become the broadest consensus and strongest desire of all walks of life in Hong Kong. Timothy Chui Ting-pong, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Association, pointed out that as long as the social order could be restored, Hong Kong still could see a long-term development in tourism.

“We have confidence in our tourism industry. We hope that through the adjustment this time, our Hong Kong’s tourism industry could work more for the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area,” he said. (REUTERS)

CebuPac Flight 5J111 passengers urged to seek medical advice for nCov infection

Marje Pelayo   •   January 24, 2020

picture made available on 17 July 2014 of a Cebu Pacific Air aircraft and rain clouds on the runway at Clark International Airport, once the US Air force base, near Angeles City, the Philippines, 26 June 2014. Cebu Pacific Air offers domestic and international destinations with its main base at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and hubs throughout the Philippines including Clark International Airport. EPA/BARBARA WALTON/FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Budget airline Cebu Pacific is calling on all passengers of Flight 5J111 from Hong Kong to Manila which arrived on Wednesday (January 22), to seek medical attention should they exhibit flu-like symptoms amid the outbreak of novel coronavirus (nCov).

In its advisory, the airline said it has been alerted by reports from Hong Kong media that four passengers aboard the said flight may have been exposed to a person infected by nCov.

The management, however, assured that “all passengers and the crew aboard the flight were screened by the Bureau of Quarantine upon arrival in Manila, and none of them were held for further observation.”

To verify, the airline is now coordinating with Hong Kong authorities regarding the media reports.

Nevertheless, CebuPac advises its passengers aboard the said flight to “immediately seek medical attention should they exhibit flu-like symptoms including runny nose, cough, sore throat or fever.”

“We have also disinfected the aircraft following our standard practice for all inbound international flights,” the airline assured.

“We are closely monitoring the spread of the Wuhan virus, and have precautionary measures in place for our flights,” the statement read further.

Meanwhile, airline passengers are urged to take the following precautionary measures and maintain good hygiene and strong immune system so as not to contract the virus.

• Frequent handwashing with soap and water
• Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer
• Using a face mask
• Postponing air travel if feeling unwell. Health experts recommend travelers stay home a minimum of 24 hours after a fever subsides

Wuhan virus revives post-SARS worries in Singapore

UNTV News   •   January 23, 2020

A passenger shows an illustration of the coronavirus on his mobile phone at Guangzhou airport in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China, 23 January 2020. EPA-EFE/ALEX PLAVEVSKI

By Tom Benner

– After a mysterious virus originating from China was brought to Singapore by an unassuming traveler from Hong Kong in 2003, the island-nation and its ethnic Chinese majority population were hit hard.

The threat of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) caused widespread public panic, prompting school closures and inflicting economic damage to business and tourism. People bought face masks or remained indoors. Some 238 people were infected and 33 killed in Singapore. All told, SARS killed nearly 800 people worldwide during the 2002/03 outbreak.

Those memories remain fresh as a new SARS-like coronavirus originates from the city of Wuhan, China – just a 4-and-a-half-hour flight from Singapore, with direct daily flights between the two cities – and has spread to other Chinese cities and abroad.

With Singapore’s Changi Airport one of the world’s busiest for international traffic, and hundreds of millions preparing to travel this weekend throughout the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore is on high-alert for the already deadly the Wuhan virus. Many Singaporeans have family ties in mainland China, and the coming weekend marks peak travel time – the beginning of the Lunar New Year, or Chinese New Year, with its traditional family reunions.

Singapore Airlines’ budget carrier Scoot on Thursday canceled its daily flight to Wuhan.

Singaporean health authorities this week began screening all inbound passengers arriving from China to spot and contain the disease, and are issuing health advisory notices. Earlier in the outbreak, only travelers from Wuhan were screened, and advisory notices were not issued.

In addition, Singapore’s Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Infectious Diseases are distributing clinical guidance about the disease to emergency room and infectious diseases physicians, as well as to hospital laboratories.

Health experts say Singapore is vulnerable to the Wuhan virus but feel a situation like SARS in 2003 is unlikely to reoccur in Singapore now.

“The healthcare system and hospitals are far better prepared today, with improved surveillance systems, medication and equipment (including masks) stockpiles, and a state of the art 330-bed facility in the National Centre for Infectious Diseases that was built to precisely avoid a repeat of the SARS debacle,” said Hsu Li Yang, head of the Infectious Diseases Programme at the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.

“A whole of government approach to crisis management has also been developed post-SARS,” he added.

Singapore’s senior minister of State for Health and Transport, Lam Pin Min, said in a Facebook post that Singapore is concerned about the increase in cases of novel coronavirus pneumonia just as increased travel is expected during the festive season.

Lam urged the public to remain vigilant and adopt hygienic practices such as avoiding contact with live animals including poultry and birds and consumption of raw and undercooked meats; and avoiding close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness.

Ethnic Chinese make up the majority of Singapore’s 5.7 million population, at 76 percent, many with family ties to mainland China, and almost a fifth of new immigrants are from the mainland, according to the UN.

The SARS epidemic in 2003 drastically hurt air travel between China and Singapore at that time, aviation experts say, but air travel between the two countries has since grown at a rapid pace, along with more mainland Chinese moving to Singapore.

Air traffic between the two countries in the last decade registered an average annual growth rate of more than 8 percent, said Simin Ngai, dashboard editor for Asia at travel industry analyst Cirium. EFE-EPA


Hong Kong leader says ‘one country, two systems’ can continue after 2047

UNTV News   •   January 16, 2020

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks at press conference epa08109218 Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam attends a press conference in Hong Kong, China, 07 January 2020. According to media reports, Lam said she hoped to work closely with Luo Huining, China’s newly appointed top local official. EPA-EFE/JEROME FAVRE

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Thursday said the “one country, two systems” arrangement could continue after the autonomous city’s complete transfer to Chinese sovereignty in 2047 if loyalty to Beijing is maintained.

“As long as we uphold, fully understand and implement the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, there are adequate reasons to believe that the arrangement would move ahead smoothly and there would be no change after 2047,” Lam told the Legislative Council.

She said her topmost priority was to put an end to the violence and destruction that have affected the local economy and Hong Kong’s reputation as a safe and law-abiding business hub with an independent judiciary.

Lam expressed concern about the possible closure of companies and dismissal of employees after the Lunar New Year holiday (which starts Jan. 25) but expressed hope for economic recovery if social order was restored in the crisis-ridden city.

She said she intended to announce next month the establishment of a committee to investigate the reasons behind the riots in Hong Kong.

The “Independent Review Committee” would be composed of social leaders, experts, and academics, who will carry out a study to analyze the root causes of problems in Hong Kong.

Lam described the creation of such a committee as an “important step” towards reconciliation after seven months of protests, although she added that the administration was having difficulty finding people to join the proposed panel.

Tensions returned to parliament on Thursday after 13 pro-democracy legislators were ordered to leave the meeting for repeatedly interrupting the session, holding banners and chanting slogans such as “five demands, not one less” and “Carrie Lam step down”.

The “five demands” include direct universal suffrage, freeing of almost 6,000 detainees, the protests not to be considered unrest and an independent investigation into alleged police brutality.

The city administration has already withdrawn a controversial extradition bill that was part of the demand of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Critics of the plan to establish a review committee say that the protesters have already made it very clear what drives their continued campaign against the government and that only an independent investigation of police brutality would be considered satisfactory. EFE-EPA



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