HK: 117,000 sign up for free virus testing in first 5 hours


  • AseanPlus News
  • Saturday, 29 Aug 2020

Health workers collect a throat swab from a taxi driver for coronavirus testing in Kwai Fong Car Park in Hong Kong. Hong Kong opened online registration for free coronavirus tests on Saturday, an effort aiming to reach a high percentage of the city’s 7 million residents. - China Daily/Asian News Network

HONG KONG, Aug 29 (China Daily/ANN): Hong Kong opened online registration for free coronavirus tests on Saturday, an effort aiming to reach a high percentage of the city’s 7 million residents to find out asymptomatic Covid-19 patients in the community.

More than 117,000 people have signed up for the voluntary testing by noon, according to the Hong Kong government.

The plan opened for booking from 7 am on Saturday. Registration is required for the testing, which begins on Tuesday for seven days. The scheme may be extended for no more than seven days depending on progress, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said Friday.

Except for children under six years old and people who had undergone throat or nasal operation before, all holders of valid HKID cards or birth certificates who are asymptomatic can participate in the program, a government spokesman said in a press release issued on Friday.

The whole process of online registration took no more than five minutes, according to the experience of a China Daily reporter. The government has set up 141 temporary testing centers across 18 districts. Different time slots can be selected by registers for their convenience.

Within minutes of completing the online form, a message with detailed information including the testing venue and time slot will be sent to a registrant’s phone number.

The elderly or people who need special assistance can visit any post office during office hours to seek assistance in making appointments online, the spokesman said. People may also seek help from the estate management offices of public housing estates they reside.

Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said on Saturday morning that the mass virus testing can help identify asymptomatic patients, cut off invisible transmission chains in the city and contain the spread of the virus as early as possible.

The universal community plan would also help the government to prepare for a potential new outbreak of the pandemic, Nip said.

He added that the government at that time would not need to only rely on strict cross-border travel restrictions, social distancing measures and shutting businesses to curb the spread of the virus.

Nip said he understands residents are concerned about the safety and privacy issues of the testing. The government will continue to explain the program to the public and he hopes residents can make their own judgment based on facts. - China Daily/Asian News Network
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