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HK ready to handle Golden Week
Updated: 2004-04-30 22:40

Hong Kong Secretary for Health,Welfare and Food Yeoh Eng-kiong and Secretary for Security Ambrose SK Lee Friday inspected the Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau control points, one day before the Labor Day "Golden Week".

The inspection was aimed at checking the health and immigration measures for welcoming the surge of Chinese mainland visitors during the Golden Week beginning on May 1.

About 239,000 Mainland visitors are expected to enter Hong Kongvia Lo Wu control point during the holiday, up 292 percent over last year's 61,000, according to the Immigration Department.

The two officials were briefed on the operation of the Joint Command Center (JCC) at Lo Wu which was jointly manned by the Immigration Department, the Police, Customs and Excise Department,Transport Department, Kowloon and Canton Railway Corporation and the Shenzhen authorities. The JCC will monitor the traffic flow across the boundary and ensure prompt responses to incidents.

They then proceeded to the Visitor Clearance Hall to meet with port health and immigration staff working together to guard the first line of defense against a possible introduction of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) into Hong Kong while providing efficient immigration services.

Since the recent notification of SARS cases in Beijing and Anhui province, the Department of Health has stepped up port health measures by deploying extra port health staff to distribute alert cards to passengers arriving from Beijing and Anhui by air or rail and to check for passengers displaying SARS symptoms.

Mandatory health declarations and stringent temperature screening checks for all passengers are still in place.

To step up health surveillance on the anticipated rise in passengers during the Labor Day holidays, the DH has deployed 26 additional health surveillance assistants to reinforce front-line health checks at various control points.

"In view of the high volume of visitors, it is important that the health sector heightens the alertness and preparedness to tackle any situation that may arise.

"We are acting prudently by asking our port health staff to keep watching out for visitors who show SARS symptoms," Yeoh said.

The DH had already worked out arrangements with the Hospital Authority regarding the handling of visitors detected with high fever and other symptoms related to SARS at the boundary control points, he added.

Yeoh noted that the Tourism Commission and the Travel Industry Council had also reminded the travel trade to comply with the SARS guidelines issued by the DH.

He said: "I am sure that with the experience that we have gained from the previous Golden Week holidays, the departments concerned are getting well prepared to receive and cope with the large volume of passengers".

To cope with the extra demand, the Immigration Department has dispatched another 320 officers to reinforce the boundary control points through internal deployment.

The Immigration Department and the Shenzhen authorities will also strengthen their cooperation and liaison to ensure smooth and orderly movement across the boundary.

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