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Together, We Fight the Virus

Back in the 60s and 70s, the general living standard in Hong Kong were poor. Television and radio broadcasts were the main forms of free entertainment for local citizens. At that time, a number of Western and Mandarin pop songs caught my attention, while my favourite one is "The Story of A Small Town" by "Asia's Eternal Diva" Teresa Teng. 

There are many stories in this small town

Filled with joy and happiness

If you come to the small town 

You will discover a lot.....

People chit chatting 

There are good stories in the small town…..

Teresa's sweet soulful delivery of the song's touching melody and beautiful lyrics made this song a true classic. I believe there is a story of this small town in every Hongkonger’s heart.  From now on, I would like to use this blog to update and connect with all of you. I hope you will enjoy and support my sharing on the construction industry in our beloved small town.

Omicron-fueled outbreak

In early February, I took office amid the surging fifth wave of Covid-19, which has been the worst hit to the city. Hong Kong confirmed its first case carrying the highly transmissible Omicron variant last December, followed by a soaring community outbreak in February. The number of confirmed cases has now exceeded 190,000, and the death toll has surpassed 600. According to medical experts, the epidemic situation in Hong Kong has not yet reached its peak.  Local outbreaks may peak only in the coming one or two months and it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people would be infected. Omicron fear and anxiety are hitting everyone. As Hong Kong is in the throes of its worst coronavirus outbreak, the government has not only implemented the strictest social distancing measures, but also kick-started the Vaccine Pass Scheme from February 24, and will conduct three citywide testing in March, hoping to curtail the escalating outbreak.

Construction Industry COVID-19 Testing Day and Vaccine Pass

As an industry pioneer, we understand the importance of being proactive in combating the pandemic surge to prevent site personnel from infection. With the support of the Development Bureau, the CIC together with the industry’s trade unions and trade associations have joint hands to implement "Construction Industry COVID-19 Testing Day" and "Vaccine Pass" from March in order to achieve Zero-Covid. Testing will be held on 4, 10 and 17 March, 2022. During these three designated days, all construction site supervisors are mandated to arrange for all construction workers and site personnel to undergo Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) on construction sites, aiming to achieve the goal of “early identification, early isolation and early treatment of the infected”. 

For the Vaccine Pass arrangement, the first stage and trial run will be carried out on all construction sites starting from 7 March and a full implementation will commence on 14 March. Construction workers and site personnel (including visitors) are mandated to receive at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. After the full implementation of the second stage on 14 April, all the above persons are required to have received at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccine to enter any construction sites.

Get vaccinated to protect workers

Health and safety of frontline workers is always our top priority. The CIC, together with the Development Bureau and Hong Kong Construction Association (HKCA) has further stepped up our anti-epidemic promotions on all fronts, aiming to encourage all site personnel to receive vaccination as soon as possible to prevent infection. With our joint efforts, the vaccination rate in industry has reached 95%. The CIC also proactively ramped up the inspection of construction sites for vaccination records and regular virus testing results, as well as checking of site hygiene and ventilation facilities. We have issued “Escalate COVID-19 risk management at construction sites” in February as a guide to sites to encourage all to get vaccinated and be prepared for the Vaccine Pass arrangement.

The CIC inspection team proactively ramped up regular inspections at construction sites

Technology innovation to improve industry safety

The Budget 2022-2023 showed the Government’s support to the construction industry. A $1 billion funding to further boost manpower supply of the construction industry and an additional $1.2 billion injection into the Construction Innovation and Technology Fund (CITF) are proposed. Measures to further promote the adoption of Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) method are also included in the Budget. The CIC has been an active advocate of innovative construction methods such as MiC and MultiTrade Integrated MEP (MiMEP) as well as to encourage modern thinking and forward-looking attitude in the industry. Application of automation and digitalised technology on sites can effectively relocate high risk procedures away from sites, in order to minimize the number of workers in site procedures and enhance construction safety.

Earlier this year, a series of CITF enhancement measures were launched, including raising the ceiling of BIM and Advanced Construction Technology (ACT) combined funding and other fundings.  A new round of capital injection will support more construction companies, especially SME contractors and encourage the deployment of innovative technology and mechanical tools in the pursuit of smart construction sites. 

Ir HO On-sing, Thomas

Last Updated: 2022-03-01 12:25:03