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By: YANG ZhenfeiEdited by: LAM Tsz Yau

Society

Man with facial paralysis after vaccination denied insurance money after hospital fails to report case

A man whose face was partially paralized after receiving the second BioNTech vaccine on August 31 was denied compensation because his case was not reported to the Department of Health, he said in a press conference. The man, who goes by the alias Mr Y, was rushed to the Princess Margaret Hospital on Sept 2. and was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy. He applied to insurance company AXA Hong Kong on Sept 9 under the government’s compensation plan for those adversely affected by the vaccine. But his application was denied since the hospital did not report his case to the Department of Health. The man said the hospital told him it will report his case after approval, but it has not been done yet. Democratic Party health policy spokesperson, Ramon Yuen Hoi-man, worried that the number of adverse post-vaccination cases is understated. “Does it mean that there are many cases like Mr Y that have not been reported?” Yuen said. “It’s impossible for the public to verify that, while the number of residual vaccine symptoms is very likely to be underestimated.” Yuen said the Department of Health should actively encourage medical staff to report serious cases involving vaccines and provide the public access to reports. "When encouraging citizens to vaccinate, the authorities should also protect people’s personal rights, like the right to know and the right to make decisions," Yuen said Health authorities in Hong Kong have confirmed 288 cases of Bell’s palsy after vaccination. Most patients will recover from facial paralysis even without treatment. As of end September, the Department of Health received a total of 6,108 reports of serious adverse events of Covid vaccine in people aged from 12 to 87. A total of HK$5.19 million has been given out with an average of HK$113,000 for each approved case.

Society

Second batch of consumption vouchers spurs shopping spree

More than 5.5 million eligible Hong Kong residents could get a second batch of consumption vouchers today. It is part of a government incentive to kick start the economy amid the Covid pandemic. A total of $5000 will be given to those who qualify. Hongkongers who registered for the vouchers using their Octopus cards could get their second batch of HK$2,000 today. A third batch of HK$1,000 will be handed out from December 16. Those who registered using AlipayHK, Tap & Go, or WeChat Pay HK could get all of the remaining HK$3,000 of the handout. Jessie Wong Hok-ling, head of the Budget and Tax Policy Unit of the Financial Secretary's Office, said on a radio program on RTHK today that the distribution has gone very smoothly, and all of the vouchers were issued before 1 am. Shoppers lined up at convenience stores this morning to collect their consumption vouchers through Octopus. They could also get the vouchers through the Octopus app, octopus service points and subsidies collection points in designated MTR stations. "I think it's very convenient to receive and use consumption vouchers," said Law Gaa-lok, who got the HK$2,000 voucher at a convenience store in Mong Kok. "I mainly spent the vouchers on buying daily necessities," he added. Many shopping malls tried to attract customers by holding consumption voucher events. By noon, a long line of customers at APM mall in Kwun Tong were queuing up for bargains.  Among them Kelly Chan, who went there with her daughter l to buy clothes.“We happened to encounter the mall event,” she said. “The event is so favourable.” Linda Lam, who worked at Hey Candy in APM, said the voucher scheme has helped to boost business. “People's mood is better after getting the subsidies, so consumption will increase naturally," she said. …

Society

Privacy concerns drive people away from evening dine-in

Despite relaxed social distancing rules and resumed dinner service, some Hongkongers still won’t eat out over the fear of personal data collected by the authority as the government requires all diners to record their detailed information for potential virus tracing. Eateries can resume dine-in service until 10pm with a maximum four people per table from Thursday, as long as they fulfill prerequisites, including staff getting Covid-19 tests every two weeks and diners recording personal information by scanning a QR code through the official “Leave Home Safe” app or by other means. The government’s controversial contact-tracing app has raised public concerns over privacy issues and abuse of data, as it will access user phone storage. Despite some online calls for boycotting the app, as of Thursday, the app download has surged to over 1 million since its launch in mid-November and seized the top position in the App Store.  “I see no reason for customers leaving personal information when eating out,” said restaurant operator Ryan Lo Tsz-yeung. “Our restaurants also have no right to ask for diners’ information.” Health officials have said on separate occasions that the virus-exposure app will only let the government know “who was present at the venues at a specific time” for potential tracing, while the encrypted data will only be stored in user phones for 31 days. Hong Kong Baptist University’s “BU-Trace,” launched last October and led by Xu Jianliang, Associate Head of the Department of Computer Science, is an alternative to the official app, Prof Xu said. “People can use other apps to check whether their information has been transferred to servers if they are skeptical of the government,” Prof Xu said.  Prof Xu also said the government could make their app open source, meaning publishing the software code for people to inspect the operating …