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Some Hong Kong civil servants, bankers to work from home as COVID spreads

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© Reuters. A well being employee carrying a protecting go well with stands as residents queue for taking nucleic acid check for the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) at a makeshift testing web site, after the federal government introduced that a number of residential buildings to be locked down at Kwa

By Twinnie Siu and Farah Grasp

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong has informed some civil servants to do business from home from Tuesday, and a few banks have given related directions to employees following a spate of COVID-19 infections within the Asian monetary hub every week earlier than the busy Lunar New Yr vacation.

Well being authorities mentioned there have been 109 new instances on Monday, out of which 98 have been regionally transmitted and 5 have been untraceable. Each day instances hit an 18-month excessive of 140 on Sunday, fuelled by an outbreak in a congested public housing property.

Responding to the most recent covid scare, the federal government mentioned in an announcement on Monday that some staff would “do business from home as a lot as doable” and warned that particular person departments may need to chop again briefly on some public providers.

With the Lunar New Yr vacation looming, Hong Kong has locked down 1000’s of individuals within the Kwai Chung property for 5 days. About 35,000 face some curbs and should have day by day assessments, chief Carrie Lam mentioned over the weekend after a go to.

The state of affairs is testing Hong Kong’s “zero-COVID” technique to remove the illness, with colleges and gymnasiums already shut, eating places closing at 6 p.m. and plenty of main air hyperlinks severed or disrupted. There was solely a “slim probability” that city-wide restrictions could possibly be lifted on Feb. 4 as had been deliberate, Lam has mentioned.

Final week authorities stirred outrage with an order to cull greater than 2,000 hamsters in dozens of pet retailers, after tracing an outbreak to a employee in a store the place 11 hamsters examined constructive.

EMERGENCY MEASURES

Some corporations have begun to enact contingency measures because the transmissions ripple throughout town into hospitals, colleges and authorities workplaces.

Commonplace Chartered mentioned in an announcement on Monday that it inspired all Hong Kong colleagues to do business from home, when doable, with employees in crucial capabilities to separate groups. Its department within the covid-hit Kwai Chung space was briefly closed.

The transfer follows UBS Group AG (SIX:)’s choice to shift to work-from-home operations for all besides a minimal variety of employees who’ve important duties to be accomplished within the workplace, in accordance with an inner memo seen by Reuters.Simply over 70% of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million inhabitants have been double vaccinated, a much smaller proportion than in related cities like Singapore, which has 90% vaccinated.

And with the vast majority of aged remaining unvaccinated, authorities in Hong Kong are particularly cautious of spiraling Omicron transmissions.

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