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Source: Hong Kong Information Services

(To watch the full media session with sign language interpretation, click here.)

The Government today gazetted a compulsory testing notice to require people who had been at Fung Chak House, Choi Wan (II) Estate for more than two hours from December 15 to 28 to undergo COVID-19 testing by December 31.

It had earlier sponsored a multi-disciplinary team at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) to conduct a preliminary study on monitoring the COVID-19 virus level in sewage.

The study revealed that the sewage samples in Ming Lai House and Fung Chak House at the estate constantly tested positive, implying that people infected with the virus might be present at the relevant places.

While there are no confirmed cases at Fung Chak House at present, the Government decided to publish a compulsory testing notice for prevention purposes and after taking into account expert views.

It had earlier published a compulsory testing notice to require people who had been at Ming Lai House for more than two hours during the specified period to undergo a second testing between December 27 and 29.

HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine Dean Prof Gabriel Leung explained at a media session that public health action is warranted for Fung Chak House as the study findings showed that there may be undetected and asymptomatic viral carriers.

“The sewage system was built to have an independent, dedicated manhole for each block and that will allow you to pinpoint the source of that sewage. That is why at the beginning – before there are any human cases, when we see the signal, we go in and try to take pre-empted public health action.

“In this particular case, you have got three immediate neighbouring blocks and each of them has an independent manhole. For this manhole, you could then determine, very precisely, that the signal did come from this particular block, which had then allowed us to make conclusions about the likelihood of perhaps there are undetected and asymptomatic viral carriers of COVID-19. That is why the mandatory testing order has been issued for Fung Chak House.

“We are actually looking at the integration of the epidemiological information as well as the virological surveillance in the sewage system that together determine whether public health action is warranted.”

People subject to compulsory testing may visit any mobile specimen collection stations or community testing centres for testing; or obtain a deep throat saliva specimen collection pack from any of the 121 post offices, vending machines set up at 20 MTR stations or 47 designated Hospital Authority general outpatient clinics.

They can also undergo testing at any Hospital Authority (HA) general outpatient clinics as instructed by a medical professional or self-arrange testing provided by private laboratories which are recognised by the Department of Health and can issue SMS notifications on test results.

The Food & Health Bureau cautioned that testing received at HA accident and emergency departments or during hospital stays does not comply with the compulsory testing notice requirements.

Testing using specimen bottles distributed to the relevant specified premises by the Centre for Health Protection or provided by private laboratories which cannot issue SMS notifications on test results also does not comply with the requirements.

Enquiries on compulsory testing arrangements can be made to the 6275 6901 hotline which operates daily from 9am to 6pm.

MIL OSI Asia Pacific News