Written by: Tao Jiaxin
2020-01-29 03:29Last updated: 2020-01-29 03:29
The pneumonia epidemic in Wuhan will enter a peak period. Chief Executive Lin Zheng Yue'e held a press conference yesterday afternoon (28th) to announce more than ten "resistance measures." A new union of the Hospital Authority requires the government to complete customs clearance in order to stop anyone from entering the country via a port connected to the Mainland, otherwise medical workers will go on strike. The government has stated that this is not feasible. Lin Zhengyue emphasized that 70% of the people who pass through the control points of the port are "Hong Kong residents, whether they are in or out. Why do we have to seal these barriers so that Hong Kong residents cannot go out or enter?"
In the entire press conference, at least four times were asked about the issue of comprehensive customs clearance. In answering the English question, Lin Zheng finally closed several high-speed rail stations such as West Kowloon Station, describing it as "partial closing down" ). The following is the full text of the press conference issued by the government.
(Originally published by the Chief Executive's Office at 22:17 on the evening of the 28th)
The Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, held a press conference this (January 28) afternoon. Secretary of Security Li Jiachao, Secretary of Transport and Housing Chen Fan, Director of Food and Health Professor Chen Zhaoshi, Director of Commerce and Economic Development Qiu Tenghua, Director of Immigration Department Zeng Guowei, Director of Customs and Excise Deng Yihai, Director of Health Dr Chen Hanyi and Hospital Authority Chief Executive Dr. Gao Shengsheng was also present. The following is the content of the press conference:
↓↓ Review the reporter's entire journey ↓↓
1 / Reporter: I would like to ask about the measures mentioned earlier including high-speed rail and through trains. In fact, I would like to ask why the election was suspended after the election. Would you worry that a large number of people would come to Hong Kong in the past two days? In addition, some of the measures mentioned include halving the number of mainland flights. However, some medical staff and even experts actually suggested that they want to restrict all mainlanders from coming to Hong Kong. What is the reason for the incomplete seal at this moment? Are you worried about the risk of virus transmission? Under what circumstances will the Government consider comprehensive customs clearance? The third question is that some people have reported falsely about their condition when they entered the country, and even some medical staff have personally reported that patients who have entered the hospital will falsely report their condition. In fact, what can the government or the HA do in this regard? Process and follow up? Thank you very much.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE (in Cantonese) : I will answer the question on the requirement for comprehensive customs clearance first, or Director Chen can later add information on the schedule of high-speed rail and intercity trains.
Recently, I heard that some groups and some people said that they would complete customs clearance. "Customs", of course, refers to the port control points we just mentioned, whether by sea, land or air. I have also shown you some figures. Since the number of people coming to Hong Kong from the Mainland has decreased significantly, the latest figure, more than 70% of those who pass through these control points, are Hong Kong residents, whether they are in or out. Why should we seal all these barriers so that Hong Kong residents cannot enter or leave? At present, I am not very encouraged. I just said that it is best not to travel abroad, and it is not necessary or necessary to go to the Mainland or other areas with epidemic conditions. But in fact, many Hong Kong people are still in the Mainland or other places. What do you mean by closing customs means that we do not welcome these Hong Kong people to come back, or what? From the perspective of epidemic control, if you have been to these outbreak areas, the risks are the same whether you are Hong Kong residents, mainlanders or other tourists who are not in the Mainland or Hong Kong. Therefore, you should start from a strict risk control perspective. Address the issue of port control points. The measures proposed today have been to drastically reduce these port control points, so that we can strengthen medical monitoring at each port control point that still provides services or can ask more details because you have a question about false reports. If asked in more detail, his chances of concealment and false reporting will be lower. What's more important is that people who come to Hong Kong from the Mainland have already said that they will be controlled from the source to reduce the proportion of them. Therefore, the Mainland has proposed a total ban on mainland tour groups from going out earlier. About 20% of mainlanders in Hong Kong; today, after the central government requested me to suspend the issuance of endorsements for personal travel, that is, new endorsements for personal travel. From the previous figures, the number of people who came before has decreased by 100%. Fifty, the rest are some business, visiting relatives, caring for family members, or other people who really need it. Do we have to completely close the visits of these two places? If purely customs clearance makes it impossible for everyone to enter and exit, I believe that everyone will know that this impact is very far-reaching. I remember that when Professor Liang Zhuowei answered the media to ask the same question yesterday, he also said that it is not about whether to close the gate or not, but how to do it. We are proposing a series of measures today to control the flow of people between the two places. We consider them a more appropriate measure. But the epidemic is constantly changing. I ca n’t say that today ’s measures on controlling the flow of people between the two places will not be strengthened. For example, in terms of closed gates, we have reduced the number of gates to six today. Everyone knows that we have more than ten gates. These The time at the border control points is long and short. Can these times be shortened later? The SAR Government will continue to monitor this matter and take decisive measures when necessary. However, I hope that the public will be objective and balanced when dealing with problems. What effect do we want to achieve? I now ask Director Chen Fan to talk about the arrangements for the two railway services.
SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT AND HOUSING : If everyone understands why we have to stop the operation of the high-speed rail, I believe that everyone understands that the purpose is to prevent epidemics. Everyone remembers that for the citizens of Wuhan or people suspected of being infected living in Wuhan coming to Hong Kong, whether the flight or the high-speed rail has ceased to operate, that is to say, there are no flights to Wuhan by air in Wuhan, and the high-speed rail does not stop at Wuhan Station. One step has been carried out earlier (this month) on the 24th. At present, the latest figures of the high-speed rail, that is, the figures on January 27. Nearly 11,000 people returned to Hong Kong, while the number of mainland visitors was less than 2,000. The mainland visitors were outside Wuhan. Therefore, everyone understands that many Hong Kong citizens are waiting to return to Hong Kong. They all need time to master the pause and deployment of the high-speed rail. In addition to the high-speed rail, what channels will they use to return to Hong Kong in the future. We think that at 00:00 on the 30th of this month is a suitable arrangement.
2 / Reporter: I would like to ask Secretary Chen Fan just now that some Hong Kong people from overseas may have to come back, but one day, why is there really no other measure to set up another train to pick them up? And stopped tonight? This is one of them. The second is that although the flight is halved, almost half of the ports are still open, because in fact, when the reporter returned from Shenzhen yesterday, the immigration officer just held a piece of paper and asked if you were returning from Hubei or Wuhan? In fact, our reporter just answered "No, no" and then entered the country. He did not make a declaration form or take a body temperature or any inquiry. In fact, are the measures announced today effective in blocking other suspected cases?
CHIEF EXECUTIVE : Every epidemic prevention and anti-epidemic measure has certain effectiveness, but I believe none of the epidemic prevention measures are 100% effective. I remember Professor Liang Zhuowei described it as a piece of Swiss cheese when he explained our public health precautionary measures. Each piece of Swiss cheese has some holes, but as long as you have enough Swiss cheese, there are ten or twenty layers of these Swiss cheeses, or you can completely cover these holes, so we continue to introduce these measures now and hope to have more The measures complement each other to achieve comprehensive coverage to combat the epidemic, but of course, as I said in my opening remarks, in the end, every citizen is required to invest in epidemic prevention and epidemic prevention.
If the public knows that they are infected or that they have a fever and eat a lot of antipyretic pills to lower their temperature and then pass the level, these are actually difficult to monitor, but it is the citizens who will eventually suffer. Because if he changes from a regional epidemic to a national epidemic, a global epidemic, then everyone is the victim. So I want to call on every citizen and tourist to take responsibility for public health. As for the flight, or Director Chen Fan can talk about it later. The first question you said was about Hong Kong people currently stranded in Hubei, right?
3 / Reporter: Why are there no special measures to pick them up, but to give the high-speed rail one more day, it will only stop on January 30, so that it has the opportunity to make others ...
CHIEF EXECUTIVE : This is also answered by (Secretary for Transport and Housing) Chen Fan.
SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT AND HOUSING : I believe this friend is very concerned about Hong Kong people, and our SAR Government is also very concerned. We need to know that Hong Kong people go to the Mainland. With more than 9.6 million square kilometers of land in China, there are very few long-distance stations from Hong Kong by high-speed rail. So if there are enough Hong Kong people in the Mainland, I believe The SAR Government's office in the Mainland is happy to assist. When we talk about the high-speed rail line, everyone understands that the high-speed rail line has a short-distance line. The short-distance line runs from Hong Kong to Futian and Shenzhen to the north to Guangzhou. The long-distance line mainly uses Beijing and Shanghai as the terminal points to the north and Hangzhou to the east as the terminal points. It goes west to around Kunming, so the coverage of the site is not enough. Therefore, Hong Kong people need many ways to return to Hong Kong to travel to the Mainland, visit relatives or work, and this is one of them.
Secondly, why did we stop the high-speed rail line tonight (beginning), it has been explained just now, and I will not make any supplements. However, we hope everyone can understand the effectiveness of combating the epidemic. Reducing the flow of people and reducing cross-infection is only one of the methods. We fight the epidemic. Just as the Chief Executive and Professor Chen, or Director Chen and Dr. Gao just said, we actually need everyone to take good care of their health and pay attention to their surroundings. Take care of yourself when traveling to avoid infection. I believe that not only one measure is enough to prevent the epidemic that is facing you. It takes a lot of measures to add up, and everyone must do his part to succeed in fighting the epidemic.
4 / Reporter: Hello. I would like to ask, first, that is, with the many measures just mentioned, that is, after calculating, has the Government expected to reduce the flow of people between the two places? How many of them are Hong Kong people? How many are Mainland visitors? Secondly, Professor Liang Zhuowei was mentioned several times just now. In fact, he also mentioned yesterday that in addition to Wuhan, several major cities in the Mainland may also become epidemic ports, including Chongqing or Shenzhen and Guangzhou, which are very close to us. Has the Government actually considered the practice in Wuhan or Hubei and implemented a control on mainland visitors from this area to restrict their entry? This is the second. Third, I would like to ask the question of capacity. How many people can Margaret and the three quarantine facilities actually accommodate? If it cannot be accommodated, it will be "exploded". What are the government's site selections and plans? Thank you.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE : Regarding your first question, you may want to ask the Secretary for Security or the Director of Immigration. However, in my simple view, the whole measure is to make it more inconvenient for passengers-that is, to close the port and stop the car. If he really wants to come, he will use other things. For example, if there is no ship, he can come by car. It is not so easy to make a specific assessment through a port that still has services. However, we believe that it is also the opinion given by many experts. If it is inconvenient for them, then there will be opportunities to reduce the flow of people. In fact, in the past month, the Secretary for Security mentioned just now that the number has been declining. The Secretary and the Director are invited to add later.
As for the second question, I also mentioned earlier that the response to the epidemic situation should be continuously monitored and then responded decisively and timely. So far, Hubei Province, especially Wuhan City, Hubei Province, has been the most serious epidemic in the community. Hong Kong, like Macau, has already taken very severe measures. In fact, the whole world is using our measure-no entry allowed-really not much. We took into account the frequent flow of people and other reasons, so we took such severe measures yesterday. Every time these measures are taken, a comprehensive assessment is required, whether it is the effect of epidemic prevention or other impacts. Therefore, there are no plans to extend the measures to restrict entry to other mainland cities. Next, talk about the capacity of Princess Margaret Hospital and three quarantine centers.
SECRETARY FOR FOOD AND HEALTH : Chief Executive, let me first talk about some lines of defence that reporters have just asked. Then I will ask Dr. Gao Shengsheng and Director Chen Hanyi to talk about quarantine centers and isolation facilities. At present, the overall flow of people is heavily regulated, but of course there are still some people. Just now, Director Chen Hanyi also mentioned that we have other lines of defense at the port, including health testing and health declaration. We also have specific health recommendations for visits to the past 14 days. People in Hubei Province or people returning to Hong Kong from all other provinces in the Mainland. These special health recommendations (should be health monitoring) can make us know their health status more effectively. Citizens returning to Hong Kong from the Mainland should stay at home as much as possible within 14 days of returning to Hong Kong; if necessary, they should wear masks. Hong Kong residents who have visited Hubei in the past 14 days and have returned to Hong Kong earlier or have entered the country. The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health has also set up a hotline 2125 1122 to call them for health advice and follow-up work.
Director of Health : First of all, let me talk about the quarantine center. At present, Mrs MacLehose Resort has been operating on January 23, with a total of 45 units. As of 7 pm on January 26, 18 units have been used. The other (quarantine center) we have is the Lei Yue Men Park Resort, which was ready on January 25th. Its capacity is 27 units. In addition, the Beiliang Chung Holiday Camp at the Po Leung Kuk (Jockey Club) in Beitan Chung is also making final preparations. If necessary, 18 units can be used.
Hospital Authority Chief Executive Officer : In terms of the isolation beds for Princess Margaret Hospital to handle these confirmed cases, there are currently eight confirmed patients in Princess Margaret Hospital. As mentioned in our contingency plan, we will be in Princess Margaret for the first 20 cases The hospital handles it. If there are more cases, the other six of our network will each handle another 20 cases, that is, 20 times by six. If there are more cases, we will open other wards and beds with negative pressure facilities in stages to take care of the remaining cases. How to deal with the actual cases for a long time, we will respond accordingly to the development speed of the epidemic, and in terms of facilities, we will make them available at any time.
SECRETARY FOR SECURITY : Let me refer you to the impact of the series of immigration control measures I have just mentioned. The first is to stop issuing new endorsements to come to Hong Kong. It was mentioned that 49 cities were involved. In the past, the number of entry-exit figures reflected that the number of travellers who traveled freely accounted for half of the relevant (number) of our entry endorsement. Freedom has been reduced. If you come from the Mainland (the number of people entering the country), if you look at it in the past, it should be affected by 50%. In addition, after we restrict the entry of Hubei (persons), we believe that we will also reduce the number of people from Hubei by hundreds each day. I then asked the Director of Immigration to add it again.
Director of Immigration : Thank you, Secretary. Let me explain to you that, in response to the current epidemic situation, in fact, the number of passengers during this period has fallen sharply. Comparing the figures in January, the number of Hong Kong residents entering and leaving the country has dropped by half compared with the situation in January in recent days. The number of Mainland visitors to Hong Kong has been reduced by two-thirds. In addition to the new measures, including Suspending the issuance of endorsements for free travel and reducing port services, I believe the decline will go even further, especially for mainland visitors. I believe it will reduce by at least half.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE : Director Chen has just explained to you the capacity of the three existing quarantine centres. You may hear that there are not many, there are dozens of each. However, in view of the difficulties we face in using public housing estates, I have asked the relevant departments to take a look Is it possible to expand the original sites in these three existing quarantine centres, because there are places-there is space for expansion, because now you know that we have new construction methods that can quickly set up some temporary and satisfy the Department of Health Facilities for quarantine arrangements.
5 / Reporter: How many?
CHIEF EXECUTIVE : There is no assessment at present, but since there is not much opposition in the community to these places as quarantine centres, we will make the best use of these places.
6 / Reporter: Hello, Mrs. Lin. I would like to ask questions about entry and exit port control. The Director of Immigration just said that the number of mainlanders entering Hong Kong has actually been reduced by two-thirds. It is estimated that if the new measures are implemented, it will be reduced by half. Taking the number of immigration yesterday as an example, there are actually 28,780. If the number of people entering the country under the epidemic is raging, if it is reduced by half, that is, 14,000 people, or even only 10,000 people are left, can the Hong Kong people be relieved of their doubts? Looking back at the number of arrivals, there were 10,000 mainland tourists entering the airport via the airport, but this time the number of flights has only been reduced by half. According to the concept of halving, there may be another 5,000 mainland tourists entering Hong Kong through the airport port. How can we prevent these mainland tourists from coming to Hong Kong? In addition, I just wanted to ask just now, in fact, all political parties have a lot of voices, that is, they hope that there can be comprehensive customs clearance measures. Among them, the largest party of the Democratic Party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, is actually irresistible to comprehensive customs clearance. Just now the leader of the Liberal Party, Zhong Guobin, also called for a complete customs clearance to prohibit mainland visitors from coming to Hong Kong. Actually, Mrs. Lin, what's your opinion on the voice of these parties? You just said that I hope everyone can look at this issue objectively. Are these political parties not objective enough? And I want to ask one more question, that is, the incident of Huiming Village actually triggered a fierce conflict among the villagers of Fanling, but just now you said that because of the damage, you can no longer use Huiming Village to make some facilities. I want to ask This time you decided not to use Huiming Village because it was destroyed or you listened to public opinion, including whether to listen to the public opinion of the residents represented by Liu Guoxun meeting with you today, or was it just because the facilities were damaged? Decided?
CHIEF EXECUTIVE : To answer the friend's first question, the first is that there is no measure that can achieve 100% epidemic prevention and anti-epidemic effect. We need to take a multi-pronged approach. Therefore, while greatly controlling the return of personnel from the two places, We have other measures. We can make entry and exit inspections more stringent. Just as we have followed international practices, we only have to enter the country because the epidemic situation will bring in, but now we all believe that we should also cooperate with the need to do temperature monitoring in the exit area. At least do joint prevention and control with Guangdong Province. In Guangdong Province, all passengers who have passed through Shenzhen already have health declarations and temperature tests. When a fever or other signs are found, he will not be allowed to come over, but if he is a Hong Konger, he cannot be prevented from returning. The relevant authorities of the two places also have some arrangements. We will accept these Hong Kong citizens and then look at What are the medical practices? I hope that everyone will take a comprehensive look at this epidemic prevention work, and do not focus on what measures are currently being used to the greatest extent.
Secondly, I would like to say once again that we do not wish to make a politicized consideration in dealing with the epidemic, and I also hope that the political parties will deal with this matter with practical considerations. Many people have different opinions, but I hope that after our detailed explanation today, what is the meaning of the so-called customs clearance and what we have done to significantly reduce the flow of people, everyone will understand better, and then we can accept this arrangement .
As for the incident in Huiming Village, everyone still remembers it. When dealing with these epidemics, especially during the "SARS" in 2003, this was a practice in contingency planning. Of course, I also told my colleagues that although I was not at the forefront of the year, as the Director of Social Welfare, I was involved in the epidemic prevention work. I would mobilize all social welfare accommodation facilities, including boys 'and girls' homes, for isolation. Those who are in close contact with patients are some of the children of SARS who have already been admitted to the hospital. No one takes care of them and gives them to the Social Welfare Department. Our own colleagues find these social welfare accommodation facilities as isolation facilities. Everyone accepted it at that time, because there was no way to go to this point when the epidemic situation reached this point, we needed more such quarantine centers, everyone accepted; but I am afraid that after 17 years, there may have been some changes in society. The usual work in the contingency plan is just to choose a location in the newly-occupied housing estate. Of course, people who live near the place will find it inappropriate, but we have seen several options and found this to be more suitable. It is not used at present. If you want to use it, you need to continue the consultation. In fact, the District Council also invited us to discuss. If it is not so severely damaged, it is not used at all. Maybe we will try our best to explain and listen. If they want to use any protective measures they want us to do, or how long they use, how many people live, we will listen to opinions and try to see if we can save this epidemic prevention center. Because its volume is relatively large, some reporters were also worried about whether the quantity in this area is sufficient. This quantity is relatively large, with about 900 units. But because of such serious damage, the extent of the damage may not be as simple as what you see with the naked eye. It is severely damaged to restore it to live in. It may be half a year, so I am extremely extreme in the behavior of such black thugs. Anger must be strongly condemned. Eleven people have been arrested by the police, and we will definitely continue our investigation and continue to enforce the law strictly to bring these thugs to justice. Destroyed to this point, I hope that the epidemic has disappeared after six months, because as experts say, by the early summer, we should also see that the epidemic will gradually diminish. Therefore, there is no need to use it, and there is no one who does not want to use it for me and listens to him. All of our work is objective and scientifically based. It is considered on an equal footing. I hope everyone can understand it.
7 / Reporter: I want to ask you now that you will not be issued a new visa, but the visa that has been approved can still come? Although you have reduced the barrier, the visa can still come. Can it not achieve the effect of epidemic prevention? Just now the Chief Executive mentioned that there is no measure that can prevent and control 100%. So why not be tough and just not allow all non-Hong Kong mainlanders to enter? But just let some Hong Kong people who have gone to the Mainland come back to Hong Kong, because they may go north during the New Year, so that the epidemic prevention effect is better? The second question, would you like to ask the physical condition of the person in Wuhan Office? The third point is also just mentioned, in fact, the Secretary has not grasped the number of Wuhan people in Hong Kong, but will it be tracked or directly impossible to find? Will they be repatriated if they are found? Thank you.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE (in Cantonese) : First question, I reiterate that the measures we took yesterday are already very severe and are rarely taken. Today, although everyone is worried about the epidemic, it is also happening in many countries, There have been individual cases of infection in the city, but none have gone to the Chinese, or in our case the mainlanders. We have taken very strict measures just like Macau. The next steps to take these measures need to be justified and scientifically based, because it will have a certain impact. As Professor Yuan Guoyong said, he has no objection. You can do it, but you have to think about how and what you pay for it. If we say that all mainlanders will not be able to set foot in Hong Kong from tomorrow, I think everyone knows the impact on Hong Kong in all aspects; in fact, we have ways to do this without using this extreme measure. An epidemic prevention effect. On the other hand, if you use very extreme measures, we will not be able to predict some situations that we can not foresee but that will affect the spread of the epidemic. If some people must enter the country, he will do everything possible to rush in, and he is unfortunately an infected person. We have no way to track down this person, so everyone must look at it from this perspective.
The second topic says that we are now based in Wuhan. You are talking about my colleague. My colleague-as far as I know-is problem-free. They are not allowed to go to the street and have no transportation, but they should have no problem eating. They are still continuously providing services, keeping in touch with the rescued Hong Kong people or other Hong Kong people in the Mainland by phone or WeChat to see what they need and to understand that they want to return to Hong Kong most now. We know that their situation will comfort them and discuss with the central government what methods they can use to satisfy their desire to return to Hong Kong without public transport.
As for the people in Wuhan in Hong Kong, we just said that we will contact them in different ways, including if they are tourists and believe that they are staying in a hotel; if they are coming to study, maybe they are in our university, we will go They were contacted and referred to the Centre for Health Protection, hoping to provide them with appropriate medical instructions. Of course, at the time of referral, if we noticed that there was a physical problem in these residents of Wuhan who are still in Hong Kong, or we think that further treatment is needed, they will be referred to the hospital of the Hospital Authority.
Finally, I would like to say that the measures we announced today inevitably cause inconvenience to many Hong Kong residents who are now returning to Hong Kong or those who need to come to Hong Kong, and I hope they will understand again This is an important part of our epidemic prevention work. Thank you all.
[Wuhan Pneumonia] The use of Huiming Village was abandoned because of opposition voices Lin Zhengtan's social climate changed
[Wuhan Pneumonia] Lin Zheng pointed out that he would stop freely and Foshan can still successfully obtain a freelance visa to come to Hong Kong today
[Wuhan Pneumonia] See article Suspension of Free Travel, Close High-speed Railway Station Zheng Yue'e: Partial Closure
[Wuhan Pneumonia] Huiming Village needs half a year to repair Lin Zheng: If it is not damaged, it will try to explain and save
[Wuhan Pneumonia] Why wasn't it "completely closed"? Zheng Lin: The impact is profound
8 ／ Reporter: Chief Executive, you said that public safety is your primary concern, yet when you laid out your measures that you're taking they only sound like half measures. Are you putting Hong Kongers' lives at risk by not closing the border ?
Chief Executive : I have explained at length what we mean by closing the border. Hong Kong has at least 14 border control points for various passenger flows between Hong Kong and overseas as well as the Mainland, and as I have demonstrated with some of the figures , 75 per cent of the passenger flows through the control points, at least up to January 27, were Hong Kong people. Closing these control points means that we do not allow Hong Kong people to come back. There are a large number of Hong Kong residents who are now travelling in the Mainland and overseas and they need to come back, so I don't think it is very meaningful to talk about a complete closure of the border control points. The strategy that we have laid out this afternoon is to try to drastically limit population mobility, especially between Hong Kong and the Mainland of China, through various measures. I try to repeat in a very precise form. One is at the source of these approvals to come in. We are saying that with the full support of the Central Government they have agreed in principle to cease issuing this IVS, individual visit scheme permits, so that will take away 50 per cent of the usual Mainland visitors coming to Hong Kong. Together with the 20-plus percentage points attributed to group tours from the Mainland, we will have removed a large chunk of the source of Mainland visitors coming to Hong Kong. The rest will be quite legitimate for business purposes. I'm sure you know there are a lot of businesses between Hong Kong and the Mainland and for visiting relatives or even in caring relatives and to visit them hospitals. These are very legitimate and humanitarian reasons for people to cross the border.
Another measure is really to reduce or to consolidate the number of border control points. In one go we are ceasing the service for passengers in six control points. That's quite a drastic measure. That again will hopefully reduce passenger flow and achieve the outcome of drastically limiting the people or the population mobility between the two places. I wouldn't agree that these are really minor, non-important issues for us to tackle the current virus situation, and you must also bear in mind that from yesterday onwards, we have also imposed a very stringent, if not draconian, measure of disallowing people from Hubei Province to come in-either they are Hubei residents or they are people of all nationalities except Hong Kong residents, who have been in Hubei Province for the last 14 days, and I don't think many parts of the world have adopted that very stringent measure.
9 / Reporter: I have three questions. The largest pro-establishment party, the DAB, expressed that it does not oppose to the closing of the border, and given Mainland visitors have accounted for about 20 to 30 per cent as of the latest situations , are you still categorically ruling out the closing of the border? And in case the situation worsens in the neighbouring provinces, for instance in Guangdong or Jiangsu, would you consider partially closing down or strengthening the restrictions on these cities, I mean when the situation comes to community outbreak? The second question is, you mentioned there is a sizeable number of Hubei residents already still in Hong Kong. Could you give us an idea of how many are there? Are there thousands, tens of thousands of them? Thirdly, a question for Secretary Mr Yau. You mentioned about the global procurement of masks. Because Professor Gabriel Leung mentioned about the outbreak of the virus could peak in about late April or early May, I mean how m uch pressure is that on the supplies of these masks as well as could as you share about in what circumstances would the Government perhaps resell or balance these supplies in the private market if the situation is very intense? Thank you.
Chief Executive : Thank you. On the first question, I have said on the previous occasion that the only consideration of the Hong Kong SAR Government in dealing with this novel coronavirus infection is public health-public health underpinned by very strong scientific and expert advice. There is no other factor involved. So whether a particular political party has a certain wish or aspiration does not come into our consideration, and I hope all political parties in Hong Kong will support the SAR Government in taking that very scientific and public health-oriented approach and join hands with us in dealing with this public health crisis.
I have explained at length that the meaning of so-called complete closure of the border control points. It's very difficult to understand because there are such a large number of Hong Kong people travelling between these places, whether between Hong Kong and Mainland or Hong Kong and other places. To stop all passenger traffic on such a massive and comprehensive scale is not warranted. But what we have done is more or less what you have described. You said what about partial closing down . I'm now suspending the service at six border control points, so you can also describe that as partial closing down , although I would rather say that we are doing some sort of consolidation in order to reduce the population mobility and also to enable us to concentrate the manpower to do a much better and enhanced medical surveillance and inspection job at the border control points. But, as I said, the situation is evolving and changing very rapidly. If you asked me a week ago, I perhaps would not ha ve that determination to put in place some of the measures that we have put in place yesterday and today. So we will continue to closely monitor the situation both locally and in the Mainland and maybe even internationally and take the necessary and decisive actions to protect Hong Kong people's health.
As far as the number of Hubei residents who have entered Hong Kong prior to yesterday, when the ban took effect, unfortunately in our usual immigration system, we did not capture those statistics. But, if anything is to go by, we only allow them to come in for seven days and according to Immigration, yesterday we denied entry of about 300-plus, so if you make that assumption, and people who have left, either back to the Mainland or using Hong Kong as a transit to other places, then the number would not be in the range of the tens of thousands that you have mentioned-certainly not of that magnitude.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development: Regarding the supply of masks and other protective gears, we understand that in this sort of situation, they are heavily sought-after locally, across the boundary and globally. Our focus is to try to tackle the entire supply chain, that is production, supplies, logistics and also distribution. On the production side, we know that the major production might be across the boundary in the Mainland, so we have proposed to some of the producers, and actually some have come back to resume the production. But there were also certain circumstances that there might be (problems) in customs facilitations, which we have been standing ready to help. Through our customs-to-customs co-operation and discussions with the Mainland authorities, we succeeded in facilitating some consignments coming back to Hong Kong. But at the same time, we will continue to procure in the light of the demand locally. As far as the Government is concerned, our priority is to ensure adequate supply for medical professio nals, including those in the Hospital Authority and the Department of Health. This will form the bulk of our demand and that's why we are saying that we will go for direct purchases, and we are sort of tendering out on the global basis to source more . In fact, our overseas offices (Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices) are also helping by widening the net.
Of course, we also need to talk to local retail sectors on the distribution. Hopefully after this long holiday, more retail outlets will resume business and if they have stock, they can sell. But at the same time, if suppliers encounter the same problem that the Government encounters, we are also happy to help them. We are obtaining information on consignment bases to see if that will require the same customs facilitation. We will do the same as we did in the last weeks to help them, to facilitate. I'll be touching base with the wider retail sector to see how much more the Government can help and work together with them along this line. Thank you.