Carrie Lam inspects park services amid epidemic in Hong Kong

A woman wearsing a mask as a precaution against the Covid-19 illness, at a park in Hong Kong. Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Carrie Lam on Saturday (March 7) inspected park services amid the current Covid-19 (coronavirus) issues, calling on visitors to keep an appropriate social distance. - AP

HONG KONG: Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Carrie Lam on Saturday (March 7) inspected park services amid the current Covid-19 (coronavirus) issues, calling on visitors to keep an appropriate social distance.

Lam visited the tourist centre, management centre campsite and hiking trails in Tai Mo Shan Country Park of New Territories on Saturday and learned anti-epidemic measures there, including temperature checks for visitors.

As the number of visitors in country parks across Hong Kong increased by 25 percent in February, Lam praised the government personnel for their commitment to service.

In the face of the increase in visitors, front-line staff members have been strengthening anti-epidemic and cleaning work to protect the health of the public, Lam said.

The government has provided rent concessions to all kiosks in country parks and will extend such relief measures until September to help tide small shop operators over the difficult times.

As Hong Kong grappled with Covid-19 issues and financial market problems, global stocks tumbled and oil prices collapsed as investors panicked over the expected damage of the coronavirus to global economic growth.

Haven investments gold and the yen surged as the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that the epidemic must be taken seriously.

At the close of trade, the Paris stock market on Friday evening was down by 4.1%, Frankfurt dived 3.4%, London shed 3.5% and Milan tumbled 3.7% in a fierce global markets selloff that began about two weeks ago.

Wall Street stocks also suffered another bruising session, with petroleum producers and banks especially hard-hit, as the S&P 500 ended down 1.7%.

Oil, already slumping on virus-linked demand fears, extended losses to around 10% as Russia said it had failed to reach an agreement on possible cuts in output at a meeting with OPEC.

"Stocks are on the back foot once again, with markets tumbling amid continued growth in the coronavirus crisis," said analyst Joshua Mahony at IG trading group.

"The stimulus-led rebound in global stocks has been short-lived, with fears over an escalation of the coronavirus crisis providing yet another bout of selling across European markets."

While governments and central banks have unleashed or are prepared to roll out stimulus measures, the rapid spread of the disease and rising death toll are putting a strain on economies and stoking concerns of a worldwide recession.

The US Federal Reserve sprang a surprise half-point interest rate cut on Tuesday in an attempt to stem devastating fallout.

As coronavirus continues its rapid spread -- more than 100,000 people in 92 countries and territories have now been infected -- investors are fleeing risk assets such as stocks for financial havens.

"With the economic impact of coronavirus large and rising, policymakers in advanced economies are being forced to react," said economist Adam Slater at research group Oxford Economics.

"But conventional monetary and fiscal options like the US Federal Reserve's recent emergency rate cut may not be enough." - Xinhua/Agencies/Asia News Network
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Carrie Lam , Inspecting Parks , Hong Kong


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