Canine positive for coronavirus in Hong Kong, an isolated case – WHO

Marje Pelayo   •   March 4, 2020   •   403

MANILA, Philippines — The World Health Organization (WHO) clarified that there is no strong evidence to prove the alleged transmission of novel coronavirus from humans to domestic animals.

The WHO is referring to a report in Hong Kong where a pet dog tested “weak positive” for novel coronavirus.

WHO Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said such report is an isolated case.

“This is one dog which is reported to have been tested positive. We know that coronaviruses infect dogs. In fact, coronavirus infection in dogs result in dogs getting acute diarrhea. We have no evidence to date of COVID- 19 infecting domestic animals,” he said.

WHO also stressed that there had been no record of human illnesses transmitted to animals in as far as experts’ studies were concerned.

Nonetheless, the WHO recommends animal health experts to consider conducting a study on the possibility of human to animal transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“We are working with our partners in the animal health industry, animal health sector for us to better understand this and once we have better information, we will be ready to share that,” Dr. Abeyasinghe said.

“At this point of time we don’t have better information than this single report,” he added.

For its part, the Philippines’ Interagency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease is also looking into the matter.

“Wala pang enough evidence or hard facts para patunayan na totoo iyan or hindi (There is no enough evidence or hard facts to prove that) so we are playing it by ear,” explained Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“Kapag lumabas ang isang rekomendasyon galing sa ating mga eksperto and then titignan natin kung ano ang dapat nating gawin. (But once a recommendation from our experts is released, then we will consider measures on how to address it). But yes, it is part of the radar of what we are trying to study right now,” she concluded. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

Hong Kong leader says security laws will not affect city’s rights and freedoms

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday (May 26) that Beijing’s proposed national security laws would not trample on the city’s rights and freedoms and called on its citizens to wait to see the details of the legislation.

Beijing unveiled plans last week for national security legislation for Hong Kong that aims to tackle secession, subversion and terrorist activities. It could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in the city.

Thousands poured onto the street of Hong Kong on Sunday (May 24) in a mass protest against the planned new security laws.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd and arrested almost 200 people.

More protests are expected in Hong Kong on Wednesday (May 27). (Reuters)

(Production: Joyce Zhou)

Hong Kong airport deploys robots to disinfect ahead of expected traffic jump

UNTV News   •   May 8, 2020

Hong Kong’s International Airport is deploying cleaning robots and is testing out a disinfection booth for staff as the city lifts social distancing restrictions and authorities prepare for an expected jump in traffic in June.

One robot being used in the public toilets emits ultraviolet rays and sprays disinfectant. It was first used on chartered flights that brought residents back to Hong Kong as the coronavirus spread in other countries. About 10 robots are being used in total in the airport, including a couple that clean floors.

The booth being tested out on staff sprays disinfectant for 40 seconds and uses facial recognition technology.

Stephen Yiu, a deputy director with the airport authority, said he expects travel to pick up in June, when a 14-day mandatory quarantine measure for people coming from the mainland and Taiwan is set to expire.

The global aviation industry has been hit hard as global travel has been restricted. The airport’s latest statistics show that 5,550 passenger flights arrived in Hong Kong in March, a drop in 82.1% compared with the same month last year.

Yiu said the airport has learned from procedures developed in the wake of the SARS outbreak in 2003.

“We found it very useful during the recent virus outbreak,” he said.

Hong Kong, which had a total of 1,045 confirmed cases of COVID-19, has had zero local infections in more than two weeks, prompting restrictions to be relaxed. Game centres, gyms, and cinemas were allowed to re-open as of Friday (May 8). (Reuters)

(Production: Pak Yiu)

Pro-China and democratic lawmakers scuffle in Hong Kong legislature

UNTV News   •   May 8, 2020

Rival lawmakers scuffled in Hong Kong’s legislature on Friday (May 8) in a row over electing the chairman of a key committee, a fresh sign of rising political tension as the coronavirus pandemic eases in the Chinese-ruled city.

Lawmakers shouted and pushed one another at the Legislative Council meeting. Some democrats charged at a line of guards, seeking to eject a pro-Beijing lawmaker who attempted to chair the meeting in a move that democrats said violated procedure. Guards carried several democrats out of the chamber.

Beijing has accused the former British colony’s pro-democracy lawmakers of “malicious” filibustering to prevent some proposed bills from going to a final vote, effectively paralysing the legislature.

Democrats said the committee needs to elect a chairman first, before any legislation, including one bill that would criminalise abuse of China’s national anthem, can be discussed.

Starry Lee, of the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, attempted to chair the meeting from behind a wall of about two dozen guards in grey suits.

Democrats, who argue filibustering in the legislature is legal and an established international practice, responded by shouting “Starry Lee, step down!” and holding placards reading “ultra vires”, Latin for acting “beyond one’s powers.”

Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 with a guarantee of its much-cherished freedoms, such as an independent judiciary, not enjoyed on the mainland. Beijing rejects criticism that it is seeking to erode those freedoms. (Reuters)

(Production: Joyce Zhou)

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