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Health & Environment

No-contact deliveries in Beijing: local residents want to minimise contact when picking up online purchases

Boxes, handbags and takeaways stapled with order forms are placed messily in the depository at the entrance of Haojing Jiayuan, a Beijing residential community, after the novel coronavirus caused the management property to restrict access. On February 10, the Information Office of Beijing Municipality held a news conference to encourage people not to come into contact with those who deliver their online orders.  "We advise couriers to deliver packages to a designated area where few people normally pass. We may set different schedules and sections of depositories so that people don't meet each other too often," said Wang Ge, a spokesperson of the Office at a press conference on Feb 10, according to a video from the Beijing News. Some residential communities in Beijing have since set up delivery depositories in order to get their daily supplies and other purchases during the coronavirus epidemic.   The property management of Haojing Jiayuan, for example, has been restricting access to the complex since January 31, and body temperature of every person who enters the community has to be taken. "They (security staff) looked at me as if I'm highly contagious," Song Jiazhu, a ZTO Express courier, said after he was denied access. He added that due to his responsibility, he couldn't "simply put the package here and leave." Eventually, Mr. Song left the community with the package after his client agreed to arrange another time for delivery. However, not all communities strictly follow the no-contact delivery rule. Xu Xiangnan, who lives in Jinyu Huafu, a community in Changping District at the outskirts of Beijing, said there are no such depositories near his home. "Our community has been closed, but the courier called me from outside the gate and I took the package from him," he said. He added that "although it's rather convenient to …

Health & Environment

Fo Tan: Residents refuse to leave homes following first coronavirus case

On February 6, Fo Tan saw its confirmed first coronavirus case after a middle-aged man had returned from Guangzhou.  The man, who remains unnamed, 42, lives at the Palazzo's Tower 10 and had travelled to mainland China and Macau over the Chinese New Year holidays to spend time with friends and family.  But on February 3, after returning to Hong Kong, he began to develop a fever and cough before being brought to the Prince of Wales Hospital, where he tested positive for the virus and has since remained in stable condition.  Rita Babani, who lives in tower two at the Palazzo, says she's worried that the virus could spread to other towers during the estimated 2-14 day-long incubation period.  "I'm just hoping for the best after the case in tower 10 and will probably stay indoors until all of this is over," says Ms Babani.  The Palazzo's management, however, has begun to take steps to ensure the well-being of its residents, including having hand sanitizers on each floor and cleaning its facilities twice a day.    Ms Lee, who did not want to reveal her first name in fear of losing her job at the Palazzo, believes that residents should avoid going out until the epidemic subsides.  "We are obviously doing our best in terms of ensuring the health and safety of our residents. I think it is also the responsibility of our residents to take precautions and only go out when required during a difficult time like this," Ms Lee argues. Local businesses have also taken a hit, as a result of the coronavirus case at the Palazzo.  Steven Chan, 26, who works at a local barbershop in Fo Tan, says that business has been adversely affected since the case. "I think it's no surprise that business has been …

Health & Environment

What happens if a COVID-19 case is found in your building?

XI'AN---- A plastic rope hung from a window on the third floor of a residential building. In the garden downstairs, a man tied a courier box to the rope and the box was then pulled up. This is a way for residents living in Unit One of Building One of Zhongjian Kaiyuan City to obtain items while the unit is blocked. Zhongjian Kaiyuan City is a residential community located in the west of Xi'an, Shanxi province. On February 14, a resident of Unit One of Building One was found to be a suspected case of the novel coronavirus. There was a confirmed case found in the same community on February 4.  According to the work plan of the local government on epidemic prevention and control, as long as there is one suspected case in one unit, the entire unit will be blocked for 14 days, no one can enter or leave.  The security personnel set up a simple movable boardroom out of the unit on February 15, on duty 24 hours to prevent anyone from entering and leaving at will. If residents need daily necessities, such as vegetables and fruits, they need to ask friends or call delivery service to send the items to the property office. Staff will disinfect the items and then send them to the household door to door. "It is really inconvenient to follow this way. We think that we can also avoid infection with our method," said Tian Mimeng, 46, who lives on the third floor of the blocked unit. She and her family camp up with a new method - using a plastic rope to 'fish' items from downstairs.  Ms. Tian said the property office called her to collect the information and health status of her family members. Before the unit was blocked, although …

Health & Environment

The inconvenience of online classes

Universities in Hong Kong are conducting classes online. However, not everyone finds the arrangement convenient. Zoom is widely used for online lectures in universities such as Hong Kong Baptist University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and City University of Hong Kong. This software supports video conferences with up to 1,000 people, participants can share their screen, lecturers teach in this way via sharing powerpoints with students. People are having privacy concerns towards the "zoom (the online learning platform that people can participate with videos and audios)" lectures since they are afraid that turning on the camera will leak out their messy room and surroundings. Some students have complained about regulations set by their lecturers for online classes.  "I hope lecturers can respect students if they are unwilling to switch on their cameras during class," said a post on CUHK secrets, a Facebook page that allows students to express their thoughts anonymously. This post has gained 347 likes. "A classroom is a public area but your home is not. Not everyone wants others to see what his or her home looks like," Alvin Leung, a netizen who commented on the post. Others though think that the camera can be used to maintain order during class. "How can lecturers know whether you are concentrating on the class if you don't show your face? It's weird that a lecturer only talks to himself or herself. We need communication," Cheung Mok-yan, another netizen who commented under the post and got 68 likes. Online classes also disrupt family life. Emily Fong, a 20-year-old university student who is off school because of the coronavirus outbreak thinks online classes are not efficient. She complains that she seems to be having lectures with her father.  "His voice is just too loud and I can hear every word that …

Culture & Leisure

Cultural differences you may face in St. Petersburg

"Rude" maybe tourist's impression towards people in St. Petersburg, Russia, but there may be an underlying misunderstanding behind the image. St. Petersburg is always considered a must-visit city in Russia, no matter for international or domestic travellers. Being the second-largest city in Russia, the area consists of canals and world-famous spots such as the Winter Palace, Saint Isaac's Cathedral and Peter and Paul Fortress.  St. Petersburg remains attractive to tourists, but there are some factors pushing international visitors away. Russians rarely speak English. The majority of middle-aged and older people do not understand the language. According to a survey done by Romir research holding, 30% of the Russians can speak English to a certain degree, and only 3% of the interviewees claimed to be a fluent speaker. The low English speaking rate leads to a rough time for those visitors who do not speak Russian. No one can answer their questions if they face obstacles during their journey, resulting in an unpleasant travel experience. Хао Yu-Fei, a 20-years-old tourist from China, believed that language is the problem travellers face. As English is not widely-used among Russians, they cannot communicate fluently with the tourists.  "When locals answer questions with simple English and do everything in a rush, travellers get an impression that Russians are impolite and rude. We understand that being straightforward may be a characteristic of Russian, but some people might have hard feelings towards that," Xao said. Xao also noticed that no matter what ethnicity people appear to be, Russians always intend to start the conversation using the Russian language. "In Russia, many people with an Asian face can speak Russain. The locals are used to it, thus feel natural to communicate in the Russian language with foreigners." Tourists may feel insecure when facing an unfamiliar language during travelling. …

Business

Copenhagen's rising rainbow economy

The rainbow flag, a symbol of gay pride, is common as one strolls down the streets of Copenhagen. Businesses proudly display rainbow stickers on their windows as a show of support for Copenhagen's diverse community.   Copenhagen is widely regarded as one of the most LGBT+ friendly cities in the world. But some say it is just a colorful facade for clever marketing strategies that focus on making a profit. Over The Rainbow Rainbow marketing, rainbow capitalism or the rainbow economy, refer to companies which brand their products with rainbow flags and colors.  This is especially noticeable throughout the city during Copenhagen Pride. The annual event held in this August draws over 300,000 people to the streets to celebrate the diversity of Denmark’s capital city.     Thomas Rasmussen, Head of Communications for Copenhagen Pride, though says the increasing popularity of rainbow marketing may harm businesses and brands because they might be perceived as "attempting to make a profit by catering to the LGBT+ community. There hasn't been any official claim of how big Denmark's rainbow economy market could be, however, the huge profits potential of such a business model can be seen from the American LGBT+ community. According to the latest data from the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, America's LGBT+ community holds an estimated buying power of $917 billion annually. "It is of great importance that the marketing directed at the LGBT+ community is backed by action and real change," Mr. Rasmussen said. Different Orientations, Different Views For some LGBT+ community members, such “supports” from the businesses which only can be seen in the pride season might not be genuine enough. "Showing real support is not how you brand yourself one day or a month, but it's about how you run your business and all of the other days of the year. I think that's what really counts," said Sami Kleit, 27, an openly gay student from …

Society

Mainland students at Hong Kong universities dissatisfied with suspension of on-campus teaching due to novel coronavirus

Hong Kong universities suspend on-campus classes until 2nd March, sparking worries of poor online teaching quality, graduation delay and financial loss among mainland students. Online teaching measures including Zoom, Moodle and WhatsApp will be applied during the suspension. Make-up classes, examinations and approval of graduation lists will be duly deferred. “The suspension sucks! Now I’m just wasting my tuition!” raged Xu Zheng, a mainland senior at Hong Kong Baptist University majoring in advertising and branding. Twelve mainland students at the University drafted a “Joint Declaration of Mainland Students at Hong Kong Baptist University,” worrying about financial and academic loss caused by another suspension on the heels of the 6-month political upheaval last year. The Declaration received 1079 effective supporting signatures by 19:30 1st Feb before it was submitted to the University. The Declaration demands graduation support, focus on teaching quality and tuition compensation, expanded qualification for full tuition refund and subsidy for the living of non-locals. The drafters claimed that flaws of online teaching such as inaccessibility of on-campus equipment would discount the outcomes of the tuition paid. About half of 1305 respondents felt “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with the quality of online teaching due to political turmoil last November, according to a survey conducted by Association of Mainland and Hong Kong Youth, HKBU. About half prefer extension of semester to online teaching. According to official websites of Hong Kong universities, yearly tuition for non-local students is about 100,000 HK$ more than that for local students. Based on a Mingpao survey, 28.6% to 46.0% of Hong Kong university entrants were from Mainland China in the academic year 2018/19. “We talked with the mainland student organization and they said some students would be misrepresented if they were to publish a declaration, so we came up with this joint letter asking for …

Politics

New port regulations around the world

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Eurus Yiu、Mereen SantiradEdited by: Nicole Ko、Moon Lam
  • 2020-02-07

Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced today (February 3) that four ports, including Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau, Huanggang and Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal, would be closed from 0:00 tomorrow to reduce the flow of people. WHO declared an outbreak of the new coronavirus as a "Global health emergency", but it did not recommend any restrictions on travelling to China or on trading with it. Despite this, some countries are offering travel restrictions, to prevent the epidemic from heating up or out of control. According to the data of the National Health Commision by the end of February 2, China has identified 17205 confirmed cases, 21558 suspected cases, including 15 cases from Hong Kong. Number of deaths has climbed to 361. The virus does not only spread in the mainland, but also in 23 other countries with 283 cases confirmed. Hong Kong 9 out of 13 ports in Hong Kong will be suspended at midnight. Three ports including the airport, Shenzhen Bay Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will be opened and Kai Tak cruise terminal. The United States On January 30, the new coronavirus has been listed as a US public health emergency, imposing travel restrictions and issuing a mandatory quarantine. Foreign travellers from China in the past two weeks (except for immediate family members of US citizens and permanent residents) are banned from entering the US. In addition, US citizens who have stayed in Hubei province within the past 14 days need to be screened, and subject to mandatory quarantine for 14 days. Citizens who depart from other chinese cities and return to the US will be diverted to eight designated airports for health screening procedures. Australia Effected from February 1, all persons travelling to Australia from mainland China are required to be quarantined for 14 days (except Australian citizens, Australian …

Business

Working holiday scams

Working holidays are a popular way for young people from Hong Kong to spend time living abroad, but some are scammed because they weren't well prepared. Living in a concrete jungle like Hong Kong that's notorious for its expensive real estate, many young people may want to explore other countries by going on a working holiday. These vacations typically involve short term employment in lower paying jobs, such as working on a farm.  A working holiday allows participants to stay in a country for a longer period, ranging from a year to three years, depending on local regulations. Temporary jobs such as strawberry farming or helping out in a winery are popular.  According to the statistics from the Hong Kong government's Labour Department, 44,731 working holiday visas were granted between 2014 and  2018, and Australia has been the most popular among the 14 countries participating in the working holiday scheme. But there have been complaints of holiday makers being scammed because they are unfamiliar with the labour laws.  Garcia Fung, a 35 years-old backpacker, warned of the working holiday traps. "For instance, you may be underpaid by your employers, employers asking employees to transfer money before arrival, or some might even find that don’t have a job because it does not exist," he said. Mr. Fung went to Germany for a working holiday when he was 29.  He had a limited choice of jobs because he did not speak German. He started his first job after staying in Germany for six months. During his stay, he had a job as a box packer. Mr. Fung was paid €2 for each box. However, he realised something was unusual after packing a couple of boxes when he was instructed to pack bags of white powder. When he asked  what the powder was, …