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Source: Hong Kong Information Services

The Government will publish in the gazette compulsory testing notices to require people who had been at 43 specified premises during the specified period to undergo a COVID-19 nucleic acid test.

The Food & Health Bureau today said the Government will exercise the power under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Compulsory Testing for Certain Persons) Regulation to gazette the notice.

It said the global and local epidemic situations continue to be serious, adding that the number of local confirmed cases has remained at a relatively high level and cases with unknown infection sources accounted for around 35% of the total number of confirmed cases in the past two weeks.

The decline in the number of confirmed cases was much slower than that in the third wave of the pandemic, and the trend of progressive decline was not significant, it added.

To cut the transmission chain in the community as soon as possible, the Government decided to expand the scope for compulsory testing on mandatory basis.

If confirmed cases not epidemiologically linked to each other were found in two or more units of the same building in the past 14 days, the building would be included in the compulsory testing notice. People who had been at the relevant building in the past 14 days will have to undergo compulsory testing.

A total of 42 buildings fulfilling such criteria will be covered by the compulsory testing notice.

Additionally, the Government had earlier sponsored a University of Hong Kong multi-disciplinary team to conduct a preliminary study on the monitoring of the COVID-19 virus level in sewage.

The study revealed that the sewage samples in Kai Fai House at Choi Wan (II) Estate constantly tested positive, which implied that people infected with COVID-19 might be present at the relevant place, similar to the situation earlier in nearby Fung Chak House at the same estate, while Ming Lai House next to Kai Fai House had just been subject to compulsory testing.

For prevention purposes and after taking into account expert views, the Government will publish a compulsory testing notice to require people who had been to Kai Fai House during the specified period to undergo testing.

According to the notices, people who had been at the 43 specified premises for more than two hours at any time during the period from December 17 to December 30 have to undergo testing by January 4.

If people subject to compulsory testing have previously undergone testing between December 28 and 30, they would be taken to have complied with the requirements.

Noting that, based on recent experience, people subject to compulsory testing would feel more relieved if they receive SMS notifications confirming the negative test results and that such SMS notifications can also facilitate law enforcement, the bureau said the Government has updated the testing routes applicable to compulsory testing notices, which only include those where SMS notifications confirming negative test results would be issued to people who underwent testing afterwards.

The Government will set up mobile specimen collection stations near the relevant buildings shortly and the community testing centres near these buildings will provide free testing to people subject to compulsory testing.

People subject to compulsory testing may also obtain a deep throat saliva specimen collection pack from any of the 121 post offices, vending machines set up at 20 MTR stations or the Hospital Authority’s 47 designated general outpatient clinics and return the specimen to one of the designated specimen collection points.

They can also undergo testing at any of the authority’s 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 in respect of test results.

Testing received at the authority’s accident and emergency departments or during hospital stays, or testing provided by private laboratories which cannot issue SMS notifications in respect of test results, does not comply with the compulsory testing notice requirements, the bureau said.

People subject to compulsory testing must keep the SMS notification containing the test result for checking by a law enforcement officer when necessary.

Unless for the purpose of undergoing the specified test, people subject to compulsory testing should stay at their place of residence and avoid going out until the test result is ascertained as far as possible.

Call 6275 6901 for enquiries.

MIL OSI Asia Pacific News