Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu chairs the first meeting of the newly established Command and Coordination Group on July 28, 2022. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government announced on Thursday enhancements to the command structure in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The enhancements were announced after Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu chaired meetings two days in a row to strengthen the city’s anti-pandemic system, according to an HKSAR government statement.

The enhancements were announced after Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu chaired meetings two days in a row to strengthen the city’s anti-pandemic system

“We are also reviewing the quarantine period for people arriving in Hong Kong via the airport, exploring the use of technology and more precise methods to reduce restrictions during the period,” Lee was quoted as saying in the statement.

Hong Kong reported 4,886 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday while five more patients passed away.

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The government said a Command and Coordination Group, overseen by Lee, was created to cope with the evolving pandemic situation and effectively coordinate anti-COVID efforts to ensure that different departments and bureaus can respond swiftly.

It will also set up 13 task groups or solution teams, led by a principal official or head of department, to formulate specific measures and plans, and liaise with different bureaux and departments to jointly resolve problems.

"The enhanced anti-epidemic command structure will strengthen and expedite the decision-making process, enabling more effective commands to ensure the accurate implementation of anti-epidemic measures and enhance the coordination of anti-epidemic efforts across different bureaux and departments, Lee said.

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He noted that the HKSAR government has already implemented various science-based anti-pandemic enhancements, including suspending the route-specific flight suspension mechanism, increasing the number of nucleic acid tests for inbound persons, mandating persons isolating at home to put on electronic wristbands to ensure their compliance with the isolation orders, and launching the online booking system for special nucleic acid tests at Shenzhen Bay Control Point.

LeaveHomeSafe app

Meanwhile, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer said the LeaveHomeSafe mobile app strictly follows government requirements and standards on information security and privacy protection.

It made the statement in response to a report presented by an overseas cyber security company claiming that the app has security flaws.

Expressing its deep regrets and strong opposition at the inaccurate report and unfair accusation, the office stressed that the protection of personal privacy has always been the prime objective in the LeaveHomeSafe app’s design, development and use. No registration is required and all data related to personal privacy stored in the app are masked and encrypted.

As a digital tool commonly used by the general public on a daily basis, with over eight million downloads since its launch, no security or privacy-related incidents have been reported, the office said.

READ MORE: HK steps up testing for hospital staff, patients; tally 4,130

Regarding allegations about the facial recognition module, the office has repeatedly explained that the app neither uses nor requires any facial recognition function, and the relevant module has been removed already as pledged, it added.