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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

3 imported COVID-19 cases recorded

The Centre for Health Protection today said it is investigating three additional imported COVID-19 cases involving the L452R mutant strain.   Two of them arrived in Hong Kong from high-risk places and one from a medium-risk place.   One patient tested positive at the temporary specimen collection centre at the airport and one tested positive during quarantine. The remaining one is a close contact of imported cases confirmed previously and he tested positive at the Penny's Bay Quarantine Centre.   Meanwhile, the centre is investigating two suspected re-positive overseas cases. The first case involves a 29-year-old woman who is a foreign domestic helper.   The patient arrived in Hong Kong on October 15 from Indonesia by flight CX798. The specimen collected upon arrival at the temporary specimen collection centre at the airport tested negative for COVID-19. The results of six tests conducted during the compulsory quarantine period at the Penny's Bay Quarantine Centre were also negative.   The patient has been asymptomatic. Upon completion of the compulsory quarantine on November 5, she returned to the residence of her employer at Block 4, New Jade Garden in Chai Wan.   She underwent another test on November 15 at a community testing centre and the result was indeterminate. She tested positive but with a low viral load after admission to hospital.   She received two doses of Sinovac vaccines in July and August in Indonesia. She tested positive on October 13 in Indonesia but tested negative in a confirmatory test on October 14. The centre is verifying the result with the Indonesian authority.   The other case involves a 65-year-old man. He arrived in Hong Kong on October 28 from Singapore by flight SQ882. The specimen collected upon arrival at the temporary specimen collection centre was negative for COVID-19. The results of four tests conducted during the compulsory quarantine period at Regal Oriental Hotel were also negative.   The patient has been asymptomatic. Upon completion of the compulsory quarantine on November 10, he returned to his residence at Tower 3, Ocean Court in Aberdeen.   He underwent another test on November 15 as required and tested positive with the L452R mutant strain but with a low viral load.   The patient received two doses of Moderna vaccines in April in Singapore. He tested positive on October 14 in Singapore but tested negative in a confirmatory test on October 26. The centre is verifying the result with the Singaporean authority.   Based on the epidemiological, clinical and laboratory findings, the centre considers that the two cases are compatible with re-positive cases. As a prudent measure, the places where the patients resided and visited in Hong Kong during the incubation periods have been included in a compulsory testing notice.   The centre received a notification from the Health Commission of Guangdong Province last night that the external package of a parcel sent to Hong Kong from the Mainland tested positive for COVID-19 during a routine check by Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the parcel has arrived Hong Kong. They asked for assistance in the investigation and follow up from Hong Kong.   The centre has followed up on the place where the parcel is located. The parcel was sent from Inner Mongolia on November 7 and arrived at the recipient's address in Hong Kong on November 13.   The recipient disposed of the external package immediately upon receipt of the parcel and washed the clothes contained in the parcel.   As a precautionary measure, the recipient was advised to maintain stringent hand hygiene at all times and carry out disinfection of the household surfaces which the parcel had contact with. The recipient was also asked to go for a COVID-19 test.   As the parcel had stayed at a local logistics warehouse, the centre advised the warehouse operator to pay attention to the environmental disinfection routines, and collected environmental samples at the warehouse, which all tested negative. Staff who might have had contact with the parcel were also asked to undergo tests.   Moreover, as passenger flight AI1314 operated by Air India arriving in Hong Kong from Dehli of on November 14 had one passenger confirmed to have COVID-19 by arrival testing and one passenger failed to comply with the requirements specified under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances & Travellers) Regulation, the Department of Health has prohibited the passenger flights from Dehli operated by Air India from landing in Hong Kong from November 17 to 30.   The centre also reminded specified people in relation to Block 4, New Jade Garden in Chai Wan to undergo testing tomorrow in accordance with the compulsory testing notice.   In relation to patients of two previous imported cases who had stayed in Hong Kong during the incubation period, any person who had been present at four specified premises during the specified period must undergo additional testing.   Additionally, five schools are covered in the compulsory testing notice due to an outbreak of upper respiratory tract infection or influenza-like illness.   The Government will set mobile specimen collection stations at Chai Wan Park and Ocean Park Car Park tomorrow to provide free testing service for people subject to compulsory testing.   A total of 39 cases were reported in Hong Kong in the past 14 days, all of which are imported.   For information and health advice on COVID-19, visit the Government's dedicated webpage.

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