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Covid-19 – an update from Boase Cohen & Collins

Hong Kong, 18 March 2020: We are now seeing most parts of the world grapple with problems which have been affecting Hong Kong for two months, namely living with and trying to contain the Covid-19 outbreak while attempting to alleviate the widespread panic that it generates. Urgent measures now being implemented in other countries have been in place in Hong Kong since late January, when non-emergency government employees were asked to work from home, schools and universities were closed and many public amenities were shut down.

Confirmed cases in Hong Kong are now approaching 170 – just over 0.002% of the population – with our government now shifting focus to combatting imported infections. It is doing this by introducing much stricter quarantine rules on all visitors from outside Greater China. As well, Mainland China is now focusing on imported infections which are outnumbering new local cases. As the Chinese authorities gradually contain the virus, so the country now accounts for less than half the number of global cases.

In monitoring the Covid-19 outbreak and its effects, I repeat the appeal contained in my previous update on 17 February for everyone to remain calm, follow the advice of experienced health professionals and ignore the more sensationalist headlines that are proliferating in the media. Again, I’m grateful to Dr David Owens, General Practitioner with Hong Kong medical practice OT&P Healthcare and Chief Medical Officer of the Hong Kong Rugby Union, for allowing me to share his latest Covid-19 update which remains essential reading amid the deluge of coronavirus-related information we receive each day.

At Boase Cohen & Collins, we are maintaining the sensible and evaluated approach which has served us so well in recent weeks. Our office remains open with just a few of our staff working remotely, we continue to observe strict hygiene regulations and we are still minimising face-to-face meetings, relying instead on video link, telephone and email. With the health and wellbeing of our staff, clients and community uppermost in our minds, I’m confident we are maintaining our usual high standards of service.

While Hong Kong remains highly vigilant in combatting the Covid-19 threat, there are welcome signs of an improvement in our situation, particularly in the legal sector. The Judiciary is currently reopening court registries in phases with a view to the orderly resumption of court proceedings from Monday next week. Clearly, there will be a large backlog of cases, but we are optimistic of a gradual return to normality. As well, we hope the Judiciary now fully understands the need to fast-track IT solutions such as electronic filing of documents and video conferencing into our court system to bring it into line with other jurisdictions.

In these challenging times, we understand our clients may have worries about the myriad effects Covid-19 could have on their lives and livelihoods. We are here to offer reassurance and advice, so please do not hesitate to contact us. In the meantime, we wish you all good health and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Colin Cohen
Senior Partner
Boase Cohen & Collins