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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, Dec 12, 2020〉Floor drains, drain outlets and toilet exhaust fans came back positive for the coronavirus in environmental tests at Kowloon Bay complex

Testing uncovered coronavirus in various surroundings of a Covid-19-hit Hong Kong housing estate, including toilet exhaust fans, health officials revealed yesterday, as the city confirmed 86 new infections.

The findings were disclosed just hours after a respiratory medicine expert urged the government not to consider locking down Richland Gardens in Kowloon Bay as it risked exposing more of the estate's residents to Covid-19.

One more infection was confirmed at the estate, bringing the total number of cases in the cluster, centred on Block 6, to nine. Of the 86 cases yesterday, 81 were locally transmitted, including 37 of unknown origin. The other five infections were imported.

Yesterday's tally broke a three-day streak of more than 100 daily Covid-19 cases. The city has now recorded a total of 7,377 infections, with 114 related deaths.

〈China Daily, Dec 11, 2020〉Hong Kong's efforts to rekindle its economy have achieved only modest gains in the last few years. Experts say a unified technology standard must be established to propel development. Oswald Chan reports from Hong Kong.

Reindustrialization does not mean businesses have to open new production lines. Rather, businesses can automate or upgrade some of their production capacities by leveraging cloud technology and artificial intelligence to optimize product quality and inventory. For example, smart technologies such as advanced machinery and robotics can be applied to the sectors of garment, clock and watch, electronics as well as food processing.

The COVID-19 outbreak highlights the importance of technology application. According to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the pandemic has led to the cancellation or rescheduling of approximately 4,000 physical exhibitions around the world, affecting deals worth an estimated $296 billion. It is under this environment that Hong Kong businessmen need to develop new sourcing and marketing channels by capitalizing on smart technologies such as live chat and video conferencing.

The city's trade promotion agency already leverages AI and machine learning to increase the accuracy and efficiency of its business-matching services. Natural language processing is used to screen out false inquiries and provide personalized product recommendations for buyers.

〈The Standard, Dec 10, 2020〉Residents living in the D flats of a coronavirus-hit Hong Kong housing block, declared an "epidemic centre" by a top infectious disease expert, were forced to evacuate yesterday after design problems were found in the estate's sewage system.

More than 1,000 residents in three blocks at Richland Gardens, in Kowloon Bay, would also have to undergo compulsory Covid-19 testing.

The measures were revealed yesterday as the city reported 112 new cases and officials warned of a 77 per cent rise in untraceable infections in the community over the past week. The city marked a third straight day of 100 or more new infections and existing clusters, including ones involving a construction site in Tseung Kwan O and a department store in Sha Tin, continued to grow.

Professor Yuen Kwok-yung of the University of Hong Kong inspected Block 6 of Richland Gardens yesterday with government officials.

〈The Standard, Dec 9, 2020〉Some visitors wore face-obscuring helmets during home visiting tours to a mainland development - their answer to mainland sales teams installing face recognition systems.

Facial recognition technology in the mainland is used widely, even in primary property visiting tours, Southern Metropolis Daily notes. That means potential buyers having their faces scanned when they enter a sales office.

One developer claims the system is aimed at classifying buyers to avoid confusion caused by agents competing for customers and to provide preferential treatment to designated customers. Still, to protect themselves from such attention, some visitors wear helmets during their entire visit.

One developer talks of a recognition rate of 97.7 percent and 50 people being detected simultaneously, even when some wore masks.

Some mainland real estate agents say facial recognition is related to a "distribution model."

If a would-be buyer views a flat after scanning a promotion brochure, they will be defined as a "naturally visiting client." If brought to the door by a real estate agent, they would be a "channel customer," and the developer must give the agency commission.

〈Taipei Times, Dec 8, 2020〉The number of Hong Kongers applying for residency in Taiwan skyrocketed 71.7 percent in the first 10 months of the year compared with a year earlier, National Immigration Agency data showed yesterday, as an expert predicted more waves of immigration after the COVID-19 pandemic eases.

In October alone, 1,974 Hong Kongers applied for residency and 128 applied for permanent residency, not only setting a record, but more than doubling the figure from previous months, the agency said.

The number of Hong Kongers applying for residency or permanent residency this year could surpass 10,000, as 8,746 had applied in the first 10 months, already higher than the 7,332 who applied in the whole of last year, it added.