Tag Archives: China

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UGC and QAC to drive long-term development of virtual teaching and learning

The following is issued on behalf of the University Grants Committee:
 
     The University Grants Committee (UGC) and the Quality Assurance Council (QAC) will allocate additional funding of $165 million to support the eight UGC-funded universities in implementing various initiatives between 2021 and 2023 to promote the strategic development of virtual teaching and learning (VTL) in the medium to long run.
           
     Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, online teaching has been widely adopted and has become the prevalent mode of teaching and learning as the universities suspended face-to-face classes most of the time. Both the UGC and the QAC believe that, after the pandemic, universities will continue to make use of VTL to enhance the overall effectiveness and experience of teaching and learning. The UGC and the QAC will thus allocate additional funding of $165 million (including $15 million dedicated to inter-institutional collaborative activities) to the eight UGC-funded universities to facilitate more systemic collaborations among them to promote the strategic development of VTL in the medium to long run.
      
     The universities are welcome to deploy the additional funding to implement a diverse range of project initiatives, including:
      
(1) developing the governance framework, assessment methods, quality assurance system and professional best practices of VTL;
(2) enriching the overall educational experience of virtual learning, such as organising staff development and encouraging interaction among students during online classes;
(3) exploring new strategies, pedagogies, platforms and facilities in pursuit of longer-term visions on VTL; and
(4) promoting the integration of VTL into scenarios such as practicums and on-site training.
 
     The Chairman of the UGC, Mr Carlson Tong, said, "Teaching and learning is the most important mission of universities and enhancing teaching quality is crucial to the nurturing of talents. The UGC has all along attached great importance to the development of teaching and learning, and we devote substantial resources to the universities for such activities each year. While the pandemic has brought about immense challenges to teaching and learning on one hand, it has also offered opportunities for transformation on the other. The UGC and the QAC hope that the additional funding will catalyse innovative and strategic thinking among our universities, and prepare them for the ever-changing teaching and learning environment as well as their development needs under the 'new normal'."
 
     The UGC and the QAC will invite the universities to submit their work plans and detailed proposals. The universities may use the funding to take forward various project initiatives from the first half of 2021 to mid-2023.

Online application for quarterly parking tickets of three government car parks managed by TD to be introduced

     The Transport Department (TD) said today (January 21) that online applications will be introduced for the quarterly parking tickets of the three government car parks managed by the TD, namely Kennedy Town Car Park, Sheung Fung Street Car Park and Rumsey Street Car Park, which are currently allocated by ballot, in addition to submission of applications in person at the shroff offices of the car parks. 
      
     During the period from January 23 to February 5, an intending applicant for the quarterly parking ticket of Kennedy Town Car Park or Sheung Fung Street Car Park covering March to May 2021 may submit an online application at the following websites:
 

   
     After filling in the electronic application form, an applicant has to upload a copy of the valid vehicle licence for data verification. If the registered owner of the vehicle or the applicant is a person with a physical disability, he/she also has to upload a copy of the Disabled Person’s Parking Permit or the letter of approval issued by the TD for purchasing a quarterly parking ticket without going through the ballot. An applicant is allowed to submit one application for each vehicle only, be it made online or in person. Repeated applications for the same vehicle will not be accepted and will be disqualified.
 
     An applicant who has successfully submitted an online application for a quarterly parking ticket will receive an acknowledgment email. The TD will continue to allocate the quarterly parking tickets by ballot. The ballot results will be posted on the above-mentioned websites and displayed at the respective car park shroff offices.
      
     Starting from February, a successful applicant may purchase a quarterly parking ticket at the respective car park shroff offices by credit card (Mastercard and Visa) or mobile payment facilities (AlipayHK and WeChat Pay), or continue using cash or cheque.
      
     When applications for quarterly parking tickets of Rumsey Street Car Park covering April to June start in late February, the same arrangements for online applications and electronic payment will be introduced. read more

Government gazettes compulsory testing notices

     The Government has exercised the power under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Compulsory Testing for Certain Persons) Regulation (Cap. 599J) and published in the Gazette compulsory testing notices, which require any person who had been present at 12 specified premises during the specified period (persons subject to compulsory testing) to undergo a COVID-19 nucleic acid test.
 
     The Government has delineated earlier the “Jordan specified area” bounded by Nathan Road to its east, Jordan Road to its south, Ferry Street to its west and Kansu Street to its north and the “Sham Shui Po specified area” bounded by Yen Chow Street to its northwest, Tai Po Road to its northeast, Maple Street to its southeast and Lai Chi Kok Road to its southwest.  The threshold for compulsory testing in the areas was lowered in order to cut the transmission chain in the community as soon as possible.  For buildings within the two specified areas (except the “core area” bounded by Temple Street to its east, Ning Po Street to its south, Reclamation Street to its west and Pak Hoi Street to its north), if there is one or more confirmed cases found in a unit in the past 14 days, or where no confirmed case was found but the sewage samples were constantly tested positive, the buildings would be covered by the compulsory testing notices under Cap. 599J. Seven buildings in the “Jordan specified area” and one building in the “Sham Shui Po specified area” fulfilling the above criteria were included in the compulsory testing notices today (January 20).
      
     As for all districts in Hong Kong outside the “Jordan specified area” and the “Sham Shui Po specified area”, if confirmed cases not epidemiologically linked to each other were found in two or more units in the same building in the past 14 days, the building would be included in the compulsory testing notice. Four buildings fulfilling the above criteria were included in the compulsory testing notices today.
      
     A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau (FHB) said today, “The Government will seriously follow up on the compliance of compulsory testing notices by persons subject to compulsory testing, and continually review the compulsory testing arrangement of the above specified areas taking into account the epidemic development. Since the infection risk in the community of the specified areas might be higher, the Government encourages residents in the areas to undergo testing proactively and promptly, even if they are not subject to compulsory testing. The mobile specimen collection stations will provide free testing services for all residents in the areas regardless of whether they are subject to compulsory testing or not.”
      
     Details of the compulsory testing notices are as follows:

     Any person who had been present at any specified premises listed in Annex 1 for more than two hours at any time during the period from January 7 to January 20, 2021 (including but not limited to visitors, residents and workers), have to undergo testing by January 23, 2021. If persons subject to compulsory testing have previously undergone testing between January 18 and January 20, 2021, they would be taken to have complied with the requirements set out in the compulsory testing notices.
 
     For implementation of the compulsory testing notices for the above specified areas, the Government has set up mobile specimen collection stations at Kwun Chung Sports Centre, Maple Street Playground and Pei Ho Street Sports Centre, and sent mobile specimen collection vehicles at the section of Canton Road between Jordan Road and Saigon Street (also called Jade Street). The opening dates and operating hours of the mobile specimen collection stations in various districts providing free COVID-19 nucleic acid testing services for the general public are stated in Annex 2. Apart from mobile specimen collection stations, persons subject to compulsory testing can also choose to attend any of the community testing centres in all districts to receive testing free of charge.

     Persons subject to compulsory testing may choose to undergo testing via the following routes:
 
1. To visit any of the mobile specimen collection stations (see the list and target groups (if applicable) at www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/early-testing.html) for testing;
 
2. To attend any of the community testing centres (see the list at www.communitytest.gov.hk/en/);
 
3. To obtain a deep throat saliva specimen collection pack from any of the 121 post offices, vending machines set up at 20 MTR stations or 47 designated general outpatient clinics (GOPCs) of the Hospital Authority and return the specimen to one of the designated specimen collection points (see the distribution points and times, and the specimen collection points and times, at www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/early-testing.html);
 
4. To undergo testing at any of the GOPCs of the Hospital Authority as instructed by a medical professional of the Hospital Authority;
 
5. To self-arrange testing provided by private laboratories which are recognised by the Department of Health (DH) and can issue SMS notifications in respect of test results (see the list at www.coronavirus.gov.hk/pdf/List_of_recognised_laboratories_RTPCR.pdf); or
 
6. To use a specimen bottle distributed to the relevant specified premises by the Centre for Health Protection (if applicable), and return the specimen bottle with the sample collected as per relevant guidelines.

     The spokesman cautioned that testing received at accident and emergency departments of the Hospital Authority or during hospital stays, or testing provided by private laboratories which cannot issue SMS notifications in respect of test results, does not comply with the requirements of the aforementioned compulsory testing notices.

     “If persons subject to compulsory testing have symptoms, they should seek medical attention immediately and undergo testing as instructed by a medical professional. They should not attend the mobile specimen collection stations or the community testing centres.”

     Persons subject to compulsory testing must keep the SMS notification containing result of the test for checking by a law enforcement officer when the officer requires the persons to provide information about their undergoing the specified test.

     Furthermore, persons subject to testing under the compulsory testing notices should, as far as reasonably practicable, take appropriate personal disease prevention measures including wearing a mask and maintaining hand hygiene, and, unless for the purpose of undergoing the specified test, stay at their place of residence and avoid going out until the test result is ascertained as far as possible.

     Any enquiries on compulsory testing arrangements may be addressed to the hotline at 6275 6901, which operates daily from 9am to 6pm. If persons subject to compulsory testing plan to conduct testing at any of the community testing centres, they can check the centre’s appointment status in advance. The hotlines of the community testing centres are available at www.communitytest.gov.hk/en/info/.

     The Government will continue to trace possibly infected persons who had been to the relevant premises, and seriously verify whether they had complied with the testing notices. Any person who fails to comply with the testing notices commits an offence and may be fined a fixed penalty of $5,000. The person would also be issued with a compulsory testing order requiring him or her to undergo testing within a specified time frame. Failure to comply with the order is an offence and the offender would be liable to a fine at level 4 ($25,000) and imprisonment for six months.
 
     Members of the Auxiliary Medical Service and the relevant officers of departments such as DH, Home Affairs Department, Social Welfare Department, Housing Department and Hong Kong Police Force, are empowered to perform certain functions under the relevant Regulations under the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance (Cap. 599), including requesting individuals to provide information and assistance when necessary. Any person who fails to comply with the relevant request commits an offence and would be liable to a fine at level 3 ($10,000). Collection and use of any personal data for conducting COVID-19 tests must meet the requirements under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap. 486). Government departments or testing service providers which handle the relevant information may provide the data to DH or other relevant departments for anti-epidemic purpose as necessary. The workflow does not involve the provision of any personal data to organisations or persons outside Hong Kong.

     The spokesman said, “The Government urges all individuals who are in doubt about their own health conditions, or individuals with infection risks (such as individuals who visited places with epidemic outbreaks or contacted confirmed cases), to undergo testing promptly for early identification of infected persons. The FHB will publish compulsory testing notices regarding particular groups when necessary taking into account the epidemic developments and the testing participation rate.” read more