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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

Vaccine packaging issue probed

(To watch the full media session with sign language interpretation, click here.)   An investigation by BioNTech has revealed that packaging defects in its COVID-19 vaccine vials were caused by the crimping process and ultra-low storage temperature but did not affect the jabs' safety.   Director of Health Dr Constance Chan told a media session this afternoon that the Department of Health received a written notification from BioNTech today on its investigation into the packaging issue.   Dr Chan said: “Upon further investigation, samples (of the BioNTech vaccine vials with packaging defects) detected in Hong Kong were sent back to Germany for an investigation. They have done numerous tests and experiments on the vials concerned. They have also done tests in another fill and finish plant operated by Baxter.   “In the process, they found out that in the vials packed at the site which provided batches (numbered) 210102 and 210104, there were issues related to the so-called crimping process. Crimping is the process by which pressure is applied to the aluminium ring which affixes to the rubber stopper at the top of the vial.   “We received a report that the (defect in question) is related to the process of crimping and at the same time the condition of the ultra-low temperature of minus 70 degrees Celsius. So that is why BioNTech has now decided to send the new vials from Baxter which have undergone repeated experiments and investigations, and that would exclude further occurrence of such an event.”
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