Hong Kong – DH clarifies arrangement for handling deceased bodies in public mortuaries

DH clarifies arrangement for handling deceased bodies in public mortuaries

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     In response to media report on the handling of deceased bodies in public mortuaries under the Department of Health (DH), the DH today (March 19) issued the following clarification:

 

     Currently, most of the bodies of deceased patients of public hospitals are stored at the hospitals’ mortuaries, and the next-of-kin could identify and claim the bodies for after-death arrangements, while bodies of patients who passed away at Accident and Emergency Departments (A&EDs) have to be transferred to public mortuaries for the DH to handle. In view of the severe local COVID-19 epidemic situation with a larger number of deaths within a short period of time, the HKSAR Government understands that the wish of the next-of-kin of the deceased to claim the body as soon as possible. As such, all relevant government departments have proactively followed up and coordinated so as to address the next-of-kin’s concerns in a swift manner.

 

     The DH’s spokesman emphasized that public mortuaries under the DH have all along operated and received bodies round the clock throughout the day with responsible personnel working 24 hours on shift. To handle the sudden increase on bodies during the epidemic, the DH’s Forensic Pathology Service have arranged additional timeslots on Saturdays for body identification in Kwai Chung Public Mortuary and Kowloon Public Mortuary. In order to address public wish to claim the body as soon as possible, the DH has decided that this special arrangement will be extended to Victoria Public Mortuary and Fu Shan Public Mortuary shortly whereas Kowloon Public Mortuary will also provide service on Sunday mornings.

 

     Since early March, the DH has been deploying internal resources with more civil servants and recruiting contract staff (retired/full-time/part-time) involving doctors and personnel of other grades to speed up the process of body identification/claiming and autopsy. Through deploying internal manpower, the department has also strengthened the handling of public enquiries of public mortuaries.

 

     The spokesman said that all cases handled in public mortuaries are reportable to the Coroner. Upon issuance of the “Certificate of Order Authorizing Burial/Cremation of Body” by the Coroner, the next-of-kin can make funeral and body claiming arrangement. Since early March, the death investigation procedure of cases might take longer than usual due to the increased number of bodies of patients who passed away at A&EDs and stored at the newly-installed storage facility. The DH’s Forensic Pathology Service has increased manpower, and has deliberated with the Police and the Coroner’s Court to devise measures to facilitate the next-of-kin to identify body and handle after-death arrangements in a timely manner. Apart from cases that required autopsy, the next-of-kin will be able to collect the Cremation Order within two working days following body identification, and can claim the body any day after obtaining the Cremation Order. 

 

     The DH has adopted various measures in collaboration with other government departments to increase body storage capacity and speed up the procedure for identification of body, which include installing a new storage facility at government sites near Fu Shan Public Mortuary in Sha Tin with expanded body storage capacity. A special arrangement was also implemented to transfer deceased bodies from the A&EDs of public hospitals to store at the new storage facility.

 

     Moreover, in order to speed up the handling of cases passed away at the A&EDs and transferred to the storage facility, the Police will assist the DH in contacting the next-of-kin for the relevant body identification matters. The Police has started calling the next-of-kin for arranging the necessary procedures in a prompt manner, and has provided telephone numbers for enquiries by the next-of-kin. Starting from next Monday (March 21), the next-of-kin may identify body at the storage facility as arranged by the Police.

 

     The DH will continue to monitor the utilisation situation and storage capacity of public mortuaries and speed up the handling of deceased bodies there by enhanced manpower, as well as to discuss with relevant government departments to formulate appropriate response measures.  

Hong Kong – Arrangement for General, Specialist Out-patient Clinics and Day Hospitals

Arrangement for General, Specialist Out-patient Clinics and Day Hospitals

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The following is issued on behalf of the Hospital Authority:

     The Hospital Authority announces that its general out-patient clinics, specialist clinics including physiotherapy and occupational therapy, geriatric day hospitals and psychiatric day hospitals will be closed as Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 8 is still in force. Out-patients are advised to make a new appointment after the cancellation of the Warning Signal No. 8. Accident and Emergency services at hospitals will remain normal.

Hong Kong – Special arrangement to provide supplementary information and resubmit registration under Consumption Voucher Scheme to close on September 15

Special arrangement to provide supplementary information and resubmit registration under Consumption Voucher Scheme to close on September 15

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     The Government spokesman today (September 12) reminded that registrants who had submitted registration during the registration period of the Consumption Voucher Scheme (i.e. July 4 to August 14) but whose registrations had not been further processed due to inaccurate or incomplete information may resubmit their registration by paper forms on or before Wednesday (September 15).
      
     Relevant people may resubmit their registrations by September 15 in person or by a trusted person at the Consumption Voucher Scheme Secretariat on 17/F, Pioneer Centre, 750 Nathan Road, Mongkok, Kowloon; or any of the temporary service centres located at the General Post Office in Central, Wan Tau Tong Neighbourhood Community Centre in Wan Tau Tong Estate, Tai Po, and Leung King Community Centre in Leung King Estate, Tuen Mun. All four locations will provide the above-mentioned services from 9am to 6pm until September 15.
      
     The Government spokesman emphasised that the arrangement is not applicable to those who were confirmed to be ineligible under the Scheme or who had never submitted any registration during the registration period. Each eligible registrant can only resubmit once through this special arrangement using paper registration form. Prior to submitting their paper registration, the public should ensure that the information provided is correct and complete, and their Hong Kong identity card copy has been stapled together. Registrants with confirmed eligibility will receive disbursement of the first voucher of $2,000 on October 1. In general, they will receive an SMS notification informing them of their registration result about one week after submission of registration.
      
     People who have registered but are not sure of their registration status can check the SMS message from the Government or enquire through the interactive voice response system of the hotline 18 5000. The Government spokesman reminded the public that they should protect their personal data carefully. The designated telephone numbers used by the Government and its contractors for contacting registrants are listed on the Scheme website (www.consumptionvoucher.gov.hk).  The public should beware of phishing emails, online scams and telephone scams.