The Hong Kong government has set up a HK$25 billion fund to alleviate economic hardships resulting from the coronavirus outbreak.
At a press conference on Friday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam unveiled subsidies to support the public health sector, the underprivileged and industries affected most by the SARS-like disease. The electronic monitoring systems for those under home-quarantine will be upgraded, whilst 200,000 low-income families will benefit from grants of HK$5,000. Students, meanwhile, will be eligible for grants of HK$2,500 to HK$3,500.
One-off allowances of up to HK$80,000 for retailers and travel agencies, up to HK$200,000 for large restaurants and HK$5,000 for hawkers will also be distributed to help compensate for the economic downturn and crash in the number of tourists.
Globally, there have been over 67,000 confirmed cases of the new Covid-19 virus and over 1,500 deaths, including one in Hong Kong.
“[The] Hong Kong government is putting every effort to fight this infection,” Lam said. “We will continue to work very hard based on our very good track record in our public health experience and expertise.” She added that the government put together the upgraded scheme in ten days after initially announcing a HK$10 billion fund.
In response to the scarcity of protective supplies, a portion of the fund will be directed towards subsidising private corporations to locally manufacture, research and develop reusable surgical masks.
Lam said medical staff had top priority in receiving the face masks and supplies donated to the government and HK$4.7-billion will be earmarked for the Hospital Authority to acquire more personal protective gear for frontline staff.
HK$26,000 is to granted each month to private and public housing management companies to subsidise cleaning, whilst HK$1,000 will be granted for each security staff member.
1.6 million masks would be sent to NGOs and elderly homes to redistribute to those in need in their communities.
Beneficiaries also included construction site workers and future residents of the two soon-to-open public housing estates which were converted to quarantine centres.