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Source: Hong Kong Information Services

The Government today exercised its power under the law to require any individual who had been present at 14 specified dance premises during the period from November 1 to 21 to undergo a COVID-19 nucleic acid test by November 24.

It is the first time the Government exercised such power under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Compulsory Testing for Certain Persons) Regulation (Cap 599J) and gazetted a compulsory testing notice.

According to the notice, all those who are subject to compulsory testing may choose to undergo testing as listed below:

(1) To attend any of the four Community Testing Centres by November 24. The relevant testing charges can be waived;

(2) To collect a deep throat saliva specimen collection pack from any of the Hospital Authority’s 47 designated general outpatient clinics and return the specimen to designated specimen collection points by November 24;

(3) To undergo testing at any of the Hospital Authority’s healthcare facilities, including general outpatient clinics and accident and emergency departments, as instructed by a medical professional of the authority by November 24; or

(4) To self-arrange testing provided by private laboratories recognised by the Department of Health.

The Food & Health Bureau said the local epidemic situation is worsening rapidly, noting that the number of confirmed cases of the cluster related to dancing activities and dancing venues continued to increase significantly in the past few days with cases distributed all over the city and some confirmed cases are asymptomatic.

The situation indicates the existence of many silent transmission chains in the community, the bureau added.

To cut the transmission chains as quickly as possible, the Centre for Health Protection has been tracing possibly infected people who had been to the relevant dancing venues.

Meanwhile, it is necessary to issue the compulsory testing notice targeting specified dance premises immediately to require relevant people to get tested promptly to avoid delay in treatment.

Those who are subject to compulsory testing must also report their test result or submit their test report to the Government by phone: 6275 6901, fax: 2530 5872 or email: [email protected] by November 27.

Those who underwent testing are advised to stay at home and avoid going out when waiting for their test results.

Call 6275 6901 for enquiries on compulsory testing arrangements. The hotline is running from 9am to 6pm daily.

The Government emphasised that it will seriously verify whether the people concerned have complied with the testing notice, adding that failing to comply with the notice may carry a fixed penalty of $2,000.

Those who are issued with a compulsory testing order must undergo testing within a specified timeframe. People who fail to comply would be liable to a $25,000 fine and six months’ imprisonment.

The 14 specified dance premises adopted the mode of operation of party rooms. In accordance with the directions and specifications by the Secretary for Food & Health under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Requirements & Directions) (Business & Premises) Regulation, these premises must be closed from November 22 to 26.

Within this five day-period, live performances and dancing must not be allowed in any catering premises. This includes bars or pubs as well as clubs or nightclubs.

Understanding that some members of the public are concerned about their livelihood if they test positive, the Government said it will provide a one-off $5,000 grant to local citizens who have been confirmed COVID-19 positive. Details will be announced later by the Labour & Welfare Bureau.

MIL OSI Asia Pacific News