The government sent out its first city-wide emergency alert on Wednesday evening to announce that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital has been converted into a designated Covid-19 hospital.
The alert, which appeared on mobile devices around 6 p.m., advises non-Covid patients not to come to the hospital and stresses that its A&E service will only admit patients who have the virus or who are otherwise in a life-threatening condition.
It is the first time the government has used the system since its launch in 2020, when officials said it could be used in emergency situations to notify the public to take emergency action.
Examples they cited included extreme weather events, major public safety incidents and large-scale public health emergencies.
Hong Kong Federation of Information Technology honorary president Francis Fong said he had called for the use of the alert service before, but would leave it to the government to explain whether Wednesday’s announcement justified such use.
He told RTHK: “For example, if we are going to have compulsory testing for all citizens of Hong Kong, if citizens have to register through a certain website, I think it should be disseminated so that most Hong Kong citizens know where to go and how they can register.”
“But for [Wednesday’s] message, whether it is an emergency or not, I will leave it up to the government to explain why they want to send the message about the hospital.
Fong added that there are ways authorities can limit alerts to certain populations. For example, a cell broadcast system could be used to only send messages to people in a certain area, such as Kowloon.
He also urged people not to turn off the emergency alert notification feature on their mobile devices.
“It’s actually for emergencies, as we had a very big typhoon several years ago that caused a lot of damage. I think it would be very good to serve those purposes,” he said. -he declares.
“After this period, citizens will know what it is…and the government should make good use of this system.”