No.3  March, 2020  
Hong Kong Government agencies in Sydney implement work-from-home arrangements
In line with the Australian Government’s announcement on broader social distancing measures to protect the community from the spread of COVID-19, with effect from 25 March 2020, all Hong Kong Government agencies at Hong Kong House in Sydney (including Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Sydney; and Sydney offices of InvestHK, Hong Kong Trade Development Council and Hong Kong Tourism Board) have implemented work-from-home arrangements for all their staff until further notice. Officers of HKETO Sydney will continue to be available via email and telephone. Public enquiry services will be provided by phone [+612 9283 3222; 1800 554 450 (Toll free within Australia); 0800 030 631 (Toll free within New Zealand)] and email ( Updates on Hong Kong’s developments will continue be provided by HKETO Sydney via website, e-newsletter and social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin). For work-from-home arrangements for Sydney offices of InvestHK; HKTDC and HKTB, please refer to their respective website/social media platform.
Bilateral relations
Hong Kong enhances anti-epidemic measures
To further combat the spread of COVID-19 in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong SAR Government has introduced the following measures:

- The Hong Kong SAR Government on 17 March 2020 issued the Red Outbound Travel Alert on all overseas countries/territories based on public health considerations. Members of the public are strongly urged to adjust their travel plans and avoid any non-essential travel outside Hong Kong. Details here.

- With effect from 0.00am on 25 March 2020, tentatively for 14 days, all non-Hong Kong residents coming from overseas countries and regions by plane will be denied entry to Hong Kong; and all transit services at Hong Kong International Airport will be suspended. Details here.

- With effect from 6pm on 28 March 2020, and for 14 days, the number of customers at catering premises must not exceed half of the seating capacity of the premises. Each table needs to be separated by at least 1.5m and no more than four persons can be seated at a table. Premises such as fitness centres, bathhouses, and places of public entertainment must be closed. Details here.

- With effect from 0.00am on 29 March 2020, and for 14 days, any group gathering of more than four persons in public places will be prohibited. Details here.

For updates on Hong Kong Government’s anti-epidemic information, visit our dedicated website.
  Hong Kong’s tests help 40 countries detect COVID-19
New tests developed by the LKS Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong (HKUMed) to detect the COVID-19 in patients are being used by public health care laboratories in more than 40 countries and territories. Countries like Egypt, Cambodia and Nepal have successfully identified confirmed cases with these tests. The rapid nucleic acid amplification tests, developed by researchers from HKUMed’s School of Public Health in January, are highly sensitive and can detect minute amounts of viral RNA from samples within two hours, enhancing early detection and therapy. The reference materials and reagents have been freely provided to overseas laboratories. HKUMed’s School of Public Health is one of WHO Reference Laboratories for COVID-19 and it has been receiving samples from all over the world and providing testing on COVID-19.

Read more here.
  Hong Kong scientists develop new smart coating in the fight against COVID-19
A newly developed anti-microbial coating can inactivate COVID-19. Developed by a team of bioscientists at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Multilevel Antimicrobial Polymer (MAP-1) coating can inactivate up to 99.99 per cent of the surrogate feline calicivirus (FCV) - a gold standard for disinfection efficiency and is more resistant than coronaviruses. Its use in hospital ward curtains helps eliminate drug-resistant bacteria, and prevent microbial contamination and infrastructure corrosion in water pipes and sewage drains. As the coating is non-toxic and is safe for skin and the environment, it can be made into hand sanitizers, paints and coating, filter materials for air and water purification, as well as clothing and surgical masks.

Read more here.
  Hong Kong rated as world’s second freest economy
Hong Kong was ranked number two in the 2020 Index of Economic Freedom, published by the Heritage Foundation. Hong Kong attained high scores of 90 or above in seven out of 12 components adopted for measuring economic freedom, though Hong Kong’s overall score decreased by 1.1 points from the previous year due primarily to a decline in the “Investment Freedom” score, which was mainly due to security issues arising from the social unrest in the latter half of 2019. A Government spokesperson on 17 March stressed that Hong Kong’s institutional strengths are unscathed and underlying fundamentals remain strong. It is relevant to note that Hong Kong’s scores in the three components relating to the rule of law – ‘Property Rights’, ‘Judicial Effectiveness’ and ‘Government Integrity’ - have all increased in the 2020 Index of Economic Freedom, the spokesperson said.

Read more here.
  World Justice Project reaffirms Hong Kong’s position in the Rule of Law Index
The Hong Kong SAR Government on 11 March acknowledged the Rule of Law Index 2020 released by the World Justice Project, in which Hong Kong maintains its ranking as No. 5 in the East Asia and Pacific region and No. 16 globally. In the “Absence of Corruption” category, Hong Kong improved one rank to eighth globally. Hong Kong also improved one rank in the global rankings of “Civil Justice” and “Criminal Justice”, scoring well in “No corruption” and “Impartial and effective alternative dispute resolutions”. Hong Kong is always considered a prime venue for international dispute resolution, including arbitration and mediation. Hong Kong also moved up two ranks, standing at second regionally and globally in the “Order and Security” category. To further enhance and strengthen the rule of law, the Department of Justice will launch a 10-year initiative “Vision 2030 for Rule of Law”.

Read more here.
Professional Services Advancement Support Scheme invites applications
The Professional Services Advancement Support Scheme (PASS) is inviting a new round of applications from 2 March from non-profit-distributing organisations such as professional bodies, trade and industrial organisations and research institutes. The PASS aims at funding non-profit-making industry-led projects to increase exchanges and co-operation between Hong Kong’s professional services and external counterparts, and enhance the standards and external competitiveness of Hong Kong’s professional services. The maximum grant under the PASS for each approved project is HK$3 million (about AUD$652,000) or 90 per cent of the total eligible project cost, whichever is lower. Expenses directly incurred for implementing a project such as costs for manpower, venue and set-up, production and promotion and the project team’s travel and accommodation outside Hong Kong are typically eligible for funding support under the Scheme.

Read more here.
  Funding scopes of Researcher Programme and Postdoctoral Hub extended
The Innovation and Technology Commission of the Hong Kong SAR Government announced that with effect from 9 March, the funding scopes of the Researcher Programme and the Postdoctoral Hub will be extended to all technology companies conducting or planning to conduct research and development (R&D) activities in Hong Kong. Eligible companies are welcome to apply for the schemes. With the enhancements, the programmes will assist more local technology companies in engaging research staff, creating more local R&D jobs and enlarging the pool of I&T talent in Hong Kong. Under the enhanced schemes, each eligible company can engage two researchers and two postdoctoral talents, each with a maximum engagement period of 36 months.

Read more here.
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