Hong Kong police arrest 400 protesters following New Year march

UNTV News   •   January 2, 2020   •   415

Riot police detain protesters during an anti-government rally on New Year’s day in Hong Kong, China, 01 January 2020. EFE-EPA/VIVEK PRAKASH

HONG KONG – Hong Kong police arrested about 400 people on charges of illegal assembly and possession of arms during a New Year anti-government march organizers said was attended by more than a million people.

Hong Kongers came out en masse Wednesday for march organizers had to eventually cancel following police orders, leading to clashes between officers and the more radical protesters.

Although permission for the demonstration had been granted, police urged organizers – the Civil Human Rights Front – to end the procession three hours after it started, arguing some protesters had begun throwing stones and Molotov cocktails and burning shops and banks.

Trouble started when activists vandalized a branch of banking giant HSBC, which led to police cracking down on them with teargas, local media outlets reported.

Other protesters in the front columns of the march formed human chains, seemingly unwilling to go away, leading to further clashes with police that ended in arrests.

Away from the clashes, thousands marched peacefully to urge citizens of the former British colony to keep protests alive in 2020 and remind the government of the pro-democracy movement’s demands through placards and slogans.

Demands include that direct universal suffrage to elect a chief executive and other representatives be granted, that almost 6,000 detainees be freed, that protests not to be considered unrest and that an independent investigation be launched into alleged police brutality.

Demonstrations in Hong Kong began in June following a controversial extradition bill already withdrawn by the government, but have mutated into a movement seeking to improve Hong Kong’s democratic mechanisms and safeguard the region’s partial autonomy from Beijing.

Some demonstrators have opted for more radical tactics than peaceful civil disobedience and violent clashes with police have been frequent.

Months of protests have plunged Hong Kong’s economy into recession for the first time in a decade, having contracted by 2.9 percent in the third quarter, due to falling imports and exports, retail sales and declining tourism. EFE-EPA

First Hong Kong policeman infected by virus, concern of contagion among force

UNTV News   •   February 21, 2020

HONG KONG – A Hong Kong police officer has been confirmed infected with the coronavirus, authorities said on Friday (February 21), the first officer to test positive in the Asian financial hub as 59 other officers were quarantined over concerns of contagion.

The 48-year-old officer had attended a banquet with 59 other policemen in the city’s western district on Feb 18. Everyone who attended is now quarantined with four policemen showing mild symptoms, according to health department authority.

Hong Kong has 69 confirmed cases of the virus and two deaths so far. Recent virus cases have included a fast-food restaurant worker and a taxi driver, both of whom were exposed to many other people, authorities said.

The former British colony’s economy has been hit hard as tourist arrivals slump and residents keep away from shops, miring the city in its first recession in a decade.

(Production: Joyce Zhou)

Filipino maid tested positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong “in good condition”

Marje Pelayo   •   February 20, 2020

HONG KONG – The Philippine Consulate General’s office confirmed on Thursday (February 20) that the Filipino maid who contracted the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is now in stable condition.

Maganda ang kaniyang disposisyon at hindi siya kinakikitaan ng sintomas ng sakit gaya ng sipon, ubo, at lagnat (Her disposition is good and she is not showing signs of illness like cold, cough or fever),” the Consulate General’s office said in a statement.

Siya ay nasa mabuting kalagayan (She is in good condition),” the office confirmed.

The Pinay worker, however, is still not allowed to accept visitors as the results of the series of tests on her samples are still pending.

The Consulate preferred not to disclose the identity of the Filipino helper as requested by the patient herself but the office assured to provide her the necessary assistance on the course of her recovery.

Meanwhile, the Consulate General’s Office reiterates its appeal to the public not to spread fake news on social media so as not to cause panic.

Muli rin pong nanawagan ang Konsulado na iwasan ang pagpapakalat ng mga ‘fake news’ o anumang impormasyon na hindi beripikado (The Consulate Office reiterates our call (on Filipinos) to avoid spreading fake news or any unverified information),” the Consulate General’s office stressed.

Ito po ay upang maiwasan ang alarma at pagaalala lalo na ng ating mga mahal sa buhay (So as not to cause alarm and panic among our relatives),” it added.

Official information and updates regarding the situation of Filipinos in Hong Kong in relation to COVID-19 outbreak may be accessed on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PHLinHK/.  

Health waivers mandatory for Filipinos leaving for Hong Kong, Macau

Marje Pelayo   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino household helpers may now return to their employers in Hong Kong after the Philippine government ordered a partial lifting of the travel ban amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay confirmed the order on Tuesday (February 18) as Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo noted that the partial lifting was in response to the mounting requests from returning workers to Hong Kong.

“There had been persistent requests from the OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) themselves,” he said.

“In fact, I received one call that he was fired from that position because he has not gone back, maybe that’s the reason why,” he added.

However, confusions emerged over the terms and conditions for their return, specifically the government’s requirement that they sign a written declaration acknowledging the risk of coronavirus infection if they head to the administrative territory.

But the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stressed that such declaration is mandatory.

“With the exemption, OFWs returning to Hong Kong and Macau shall be required to execute a declaration which states that they are aware of the risks involved,” the DFA said in an advisory.

“Newly-hired Filipino employees are likewise exempted from the ban as long as they also sign the form that can be obtained from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA),” it added.

Nonetheless, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin assured that despite the risk, the government will always be ready to provide them assistance even as one Filipino maid has been confirmed positive for the virus.

“Don’t worry, they’ll sign health waivers but we won’t waive our obligation to take care of them wherever they are,” Locsin said.

Aside from the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Filipinos with permanent residency status in Macau and China are also allowed to depart as well as Filipino students enrolled there.

Meanwhile, Filipino travelers from China with foreign spouses and their children will also be allowed entry to the Philippines as well as all holders of diplomatic visas subject to a 14-day quarantine period upon arrival.

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