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Jan retail sales up 0.9%

The value of total retail sales in January, provisionally estimated at $36.5 billion, rose 0.9% compared with the same month in 2023, the Census & Statistics Department announced today.   After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the provisional estimate represents a 1.2% year-on-year decrease.   Of the total retail sales value in January, online sales accounted for 6.5%. Provisionally estimated at $2.4 billion, the value of this segment went down by 20.9% compared with a year earlier.   Noting that retail sales tend to show greater volatility in the first two months of a year due to the timing of the Lunar New Year, the department said the year-on-year comparison of the figures might have been affected to a certain extent.   The value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts increased 25.2% compared with January 2023.   Increases were also recorded in the sales of other consumer goods not elsewhere classified (up 7

False positive test results probed

The Government said today it has completed the investigation of the false positive virus testing results by private laboratory BGI and requested it to continue to strictly follow the improvement measures to ensure that such an incident will not occur again.   When the Department of Health’s Public Health Laboratory Services Branch conducted confirmatory tests for preliminary positive specimens referred by BGI on January 29, February 1 and 2, it found the COVID-19 testing results of some of these specimens to be negative.   The Hospital Authority arranged new specimens to be collected from these cases for further testing, which also tested negative.   The incident involved 16 false positive results, including eight cases from the Targeted Group Testing Scheme for teaching & non-teaching staff & staff of boarding section of special schools on January 29 and four cases from the compulsory testing arrangement for residents and visitors of Heng Lok House of Tin Heng Estate in Tin Shui Wai on February 1.   The other four cases pertained to specimens collected from a mobile testing station and a community testing centre.   The laboratory has conducted a thorough investigation into the root cause leading to false positive results in accordance with the Government's request, and submitted to the Department of Health on February 11 a report examining the potential areas of lapses, including human error, reagents carryover or contamination and environmental contamination as well as the corrective and improvement measures taken.   The laboratory adopted additional confirmatory tests on preliminary positive specimens as one of the corrective and improvement measures from February 4. It was noted that no further false positive results have been detected from BGI since then.
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