Speech at Panel on Public Service

Participation of civil servants in the fight against the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic

Manpower situation of anti-epidemic work

Mr CHAN Chun-ying raised concern about the lack of manpower and resources to take forward anti-epidemic measures at the earlier stage of the fifth wave of the epidemic. There were suggestions that the Administration should encourage civil servants to take part in anti-epidemic programmes on a voluntary basis and, in accordance with the epidemic development, adjust its anti-epidemic strategies and redeploy the manpower to make effective use of the available resources to fight the epidemic.

The Administration advised that civil servants were assigned to take up various roles during different stages of the epidemic. For example, the “restriction-testing declaration” operations were mainly taken up by the Home Affairs Department and the Housing Department in the earlier stage of the fifth wave of the epidemic. Since late February, 11 bureaux and more than 40 departments under their purview had been assigned to form teams to organize and implement the operations. It was estimated that over 140 000 government employees (around 70% of the total number of government employees) had participated in the anti-epidemic work during the fifth wave of the epidemic. In addition, volunteer teams comprising civil servants at different ranks and from different bureaux/departments (“B/Ds”) had supported the anti-epidemic work. The Administration assured members that it would continue to closely monitor the epidemic situation and suitably adjust its anti-epidemic initiatives and manpower resources to ensure effective implementation of anti-epidemic measures.

Update on targeted measures for protection of government employees under the epidemic and implementation of “vaccine pass” in government premises

“Vaccine Pass” arrangement for government employees

Regarding Mr CHAN Chun-ying’s concern on the implementation of the “vaccine pass” arrangement for government employees, the Administration advised that as over 99% and 98% of government employees had received at least one and two doses of COVID-19 vaccine respectively, the first and second stages of the “vaccine pass” arrangement had been implemented smoothly at government buildings and offices. The Administration expected that the implementation of the third stage of the “vaccine pass” arrangement would be on schedule, i.e. government employees were required to receive the third dose of vaccine by 16 May 2022.

The Administration further advised that government employees had to submit their vaccination record and report any positive cases to their supervisors, and B/Ds would monitor if their staff members had fulfilled the requirements of “vaccine pass”. Where staff access cards were applicable, government employees who had complied with the requirements could use their cards to enter government offices and premises.

Testing strategy and arrangements for government employees infected with COVID-19

Mr CHAN Chun-ying suggested that the Administration should make it mandatory for frontline staff to take rapid antigen tests daily, so as to safeguard the health of the people they served.

The Administration stressed that the guidelines were developed having regard to the latest advice from health authorities. According to the guidelines, staff members who had received two doses of vaccine and were undergoing isolation would be considered as recovered and might resume duty at the workplace if they were tested negative on rapid antigen tests for two consecutive days starting from Day 6. B/Ds might make suitable work arrangement for such staff who were tested positive again after recovery having regard to individual circumstances. The Administration added that B/Ds would continue to request their staff members to conduct rapid antigen tests, depending on the risk exposures and operational needs, so as to reduce the risk of infection.

Special work arrangement for government employees

Question was raised as to whether backlog was resulted from the work from home arrangement for government employees under the pandemic. The Administration advised that the Government had implemented special work arrangement for government employees and maintained emergency services and essential public services in view of the severe situation of the fifth wave of the pandemic. There might be some backlog of work but public services had resumed gradually