Source from HKSAR Government
Contributions made by the construction sector (including government departments, public utility companies, Construction Industry Council (CIC), relevant professional institutions, trade associations, societies and unions) in combating the fifth wave of epidemic. Joint efforts of the construction sector in curbing the epidemic with full force.
Construction industry rode out the storm together through the four waves of epidemic in two years
- Following the outbreak of Covid-19 in Hong Kong in 2020, the construction of phase 1 to 4 quarantine facilities at Penny’s Bay, as well as the North Lantau Hospital Hong Kong Infection Control Centre, were shortly completed with the assistance of the Central Authorities. The active involvement of the construction industry in the building process of these facilities played a key part in aiding Hong Kong in its epidemic fights.
Drastic deterioration of the fifth wave of epidemic highlighting the urgency of facility expansion
- The situation of the fifth wave of the epidemic deteriorated from end 2021 to February this year. The number of confirmed cases has surged on ten-fold growth, subjecting every part of epidemic control measures to imminent pressure. Among others, the severe shortage of community isolation and treatment facilities for accommodating confirmed patients or those who have been tested positive but showing no clinical symptoms has increased the risks of the general public in contracting Covid-19 at home or in the community, which in turn presented an urgent need for large-scale expansion of quarantine facilities.
Eight additional facilities with construction at Penny’s Bay and Kai Tak spearheading
- With the staunch support of the Central Authorities and the effective coordination of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, China State Construction International quickly mobilized its manpower and resources to kick start the construction of community isolation and treatment facilities at Penny’s Bay and Kai Tak Former Runway Area on February 19, closely followed by the handover of land in the other six locations to contractors for construction of the community isolation facilities from February 21 to 23. The eight projects cover a total area of 78.6 hectares.
- The construction sector was answering the urgent call with one heart and one mind. To take forward the construction projects in full speed, sub-contractors as well as material and machinery suppliers provided active support to the construction teams in coordinating construction material, supplies, equipment and prefabricated modules. According to the information provided by the contractor regarding the six community isolation facilities, more than 15 000 workers were driven to work towards a common goal at the peak periods – with more than 7 000 workers working on site in Hong Kong while another 7 000 workers in mainland manufacturing modular housing at full gear, alongside with the deployment of some 620 heavy-duty machineries. With respect to transportation, the number of trips made to the sites exceeded 510 daily, with sea freight transport joining in a later stage at a maximum volume of six vessels a day.
Speedy project completion to alleviate pressure
- The construction of community isolation facility in Tsing Yi took only 7 days to complete whereas the site in San Tin, completed in two weeks, was handed over for full operation on March 9. The quarantine and treatment facilities located in the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities Island of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, Ma Sik Road in Fanling, Hung Shui Kiu and Yuen Long Tam Mei were subsequently handed over on 12, 13, 17 and 24 March for commissioning of service.
- The site in Hung Shui Kiu serves two purposes – general isolation facility and holding centre for the elderly. The roof top specifically retained enables the healthcare team to operate the centre without exposure to the sun and rain while offering adequate shelter for the installed facilities. Prior to operation of the holding centre for the elderly in April, facilities including barrier-free access for wheelchair users, addition of screens in bigger rooms as well as installation of handrails and lighting in lavatory and shower room will be upgraded.
- The remaining project in Yuen Long Tam Mei will also be completed within this month. In less than a month, the six projects mentioned above have provided more than 20 000 beds for Hong Kong in total, alleviating demand pressure for isolation facilities.
- This not only demonstrates the “Chinese speed”, but also indicates how the tight collaboration among public works departments of HKSAR Government, public utility and construction teams have jointly left a miraculous mark in the history of construction engineering of Hong Kong.
- In addition, the provision of individual units equipped with private toilet and shower make isolation facilities at the Penny’s Bay and Kai Tak Former Runway Area suitable for long term use. The two sites, jointly providing around 10 000 units and 20 000 beds, are expected to be put into service in May in batches.
Measures Targeting Construction Sector
- The construction sector has acted upon its own initiative to fully implement “Vaccine Pass Arrangement at Construction Sites” since 14 March 2022. All personnel entering construction sites are required to have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine. Vaccination requirement would be tightened to receiving two doses of Covid-19 vaccine in the second phrase starting from April 14. At present, statistics gathered from sites indicate that the vaccination rate has reached 99%.
- Organised “Construction Industry Covid-19 Testing Days” on 4, 10 and 17 March 2022. In an attempt to achieve the goal of “early identification, early isolation and early treatment of the infected”, the Government supplied 540 000 rapid antigen test kits to the industry free of charge to support testing of about 150 000 workers and other site personnel in all construction sites across the territory (about 1 400 in total) on the three testing days. In addition, the Government will finance the additional expenses incurred in conducting rapid antigen tests at least three times a week for site personnel of all public works projects and enhancing site disinfection. To make good use of the surplus stock of “Rapid Antigen Test Kits” dispatched earlier, the CIC and the construction sector decided to run two extra “Construction Industry Covid-19 Testing Days” on 21 and 24 March 2022 and arranged testing for construction workers and other site personnel on site.
- The CIC and the construction sector have joined hands to launch the “Construction Industry Caring Campaign”, providing financial relief for the construction workers affected by the epidemic as well as caring support to their families. Between February 2020 and 22 March 2022, a total of over $27 million living allowance was granted for more than 5 700 eligible workers, including those under compulsory quarantine and those infected with Covid-19. Given the severity of the fifth wave of epidemic, all donations received under the Campaign have been granted. The CIC announced on March 30 to allocate $123M to launch the “Construction Industry Caring Campaign 2.0” to continue to provide timely support to workers affected by the epidemic.
- Charity founded by individual contractors had distributed material to those in need during the fifth wave of the epidemic. For example, contractors had led “Lifewire”, one organisation established by industry practitioners, to distribute gift packs comprising children’s masks, anti-epidemic materials, kettles and cushions to families of rare disease patients.
- The construction sector continues to cooperate with non-governmental organisations to distribute meal boxes to the underprivileged on a weekly basis during the fifth wave of the epidemic.
- While the fifth wave of the Covid-19 epidemic has dealt a heavy blow to us, the construction industry is guarding its posts to ensure various projects that benefit people’s livelihood and the economy will not come to a halt. Moreover, the construction sector immediately mobilized manpower to partake in the Mainland-aided construction projects in various districts, alleviating in no time the demand pressure of isolation facilities, demonstrating the “China speed” and creating miracles in engineering history.
- 建造業界眾志成城，積極響應，分判商和材料及機械供應商積極響應支持承建商援建團隊，配合工程建材、物資設備、預製單位等馬上到位，全速推進援建工程。根據承建商就6個社區隔離設施 提供的資料，高峰期開工人數超過15 000人，香港施工現場高峰期開工人數逾7000人，內地方面也有工人逾7000人全速投入生產組合屋，大家共同奮鬥。在高峰期投入的大型機械超過620台；運輸方面，高峰時候單日以車次來說，是超過510個車次，去到中後段其實也加入了海運，海運貨船在高峰期每日是六艘。
- 另外，現正在竹篙灣和啟德前跑道區興建可作長期用途的隔離設施，每單位設有獨立廁所和浴室，將提供共約10 000個單位，約20 000張床位，將於5月開始分階段建成。
- 於2022年3月4日、10日及17日推行「建造業檢測日」，由政府向業界免費派發54萬個快速抗原檢測包，支援全港所有工地（總數約1 400個）在該三個檢測日為約15萬 名工友及其他駐工地人員進行檢測，以找出隱性患者，達致「早發現、早隔離、早治療」的目標。此外，政府會承擔工務工程的工地人員(每星期進行最少三次快速抗原測試，及加強工地消毒所涉及的開支。由於各工地均尚餘部分早前獲發的「快速抗原檢測包」，為善用資源，建造業議會及建造業界在發展局的支持下，決定將2022年3月21日及24日定為額外兩個「建造業檢測日」，安排工友及工地人員在工地內進行檢測。
- 建造業議會與業界攜手舉辦「建造業抗疫關愛行動」，為受疫情影響的建造業工友及其家屬，提供經濟及關愛支援。自2020年2月推出至2022年3月22日，共批出逾2,700萬元生活津貼予 超過5 700名合資格工友，包括受家居隔離影響及不幸確診的工友。由於第五波疫情嚴峻，行動所籌得的款項已全數批出。議會於3月30日公布撥款1億2,300萬元推出「建造業抗疫關愛行動2.0」，繼續為受疫情影響的工友提供適切支援 。