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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

Delayed release of test results probed

The Food & Health Bureau today said follow-up actions have been taken against its service provider’s delay in notifying people of their COVID-19 test results within two days after undergoing tests at Henry G Leong Yaumatei Community Centre.   The bureau made the statement in response to media enquiries concerning members of the public not being able to receive test results within two days after attending that community testing centre on March 3.   It said KingMed Diagnostics (Hong Kong), which runs the testing centre, encountered technical issues on March 4 while uploading test results of specimens collected from community testing centres and mobile testing stations on March 3.   Due to this problem, the service provider failed to send out on March 4 the negative results of those who underwent testing.   The delay was resolved by noon on March 6, the third day after testing, and all relevant test results had been sent to the people concerned on the same day.   About 6,000 people were affected by the incident and all their test results were negative.   The bureau noted that the incident did not involve the accuracy or validity of the test and no personal data was lost.   Regarding a media report which claimed a person who underwent testing on March 4 at Henry G Leong Yaumatei Community Centre had not received the test result by March 6, the service provider stated that specimens collected from the centre on March 4 were all tested on March 6, and the test results were uploaded in batches for people who underwent testing on the same day.   The bureau pointed out that though the incident did not affect the service provider’s progress in conducting tests or the accuracy of the results, and it did not compromise the objective of identifying confirmed cases as early as possible, it did inconvenience those who underwent testing.   Staff of the concerned community testing centre also failed to accurately reply enquiries from the public, it added.   The bureau described the situation as very unsatisfactory, adding it had taken stringent follow-up actions, including instructing the service provider to conduct a thorough investigation, submit an incident report and make improvements.   The service provider was also suspended from operating new mobile specimen collection stations when the situation was being resolved.   It will take further follow-up actions in accordance with the contract should similar situations occur in the future, the bureau added.
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