HK set to provide free citywide testing for COVID-19 from Sep 1
Published: Aug 21, 2020 05:48 PM Updated: Aug 21, 2020 09:22 PM



Hong Kong is set to conduct free citywide tests for COVID-19 on September 1 with the central government's help, which will likely take two weeks, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Friday, the day when 50 Chinese mainland testing professionals arrived in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong government will be responsible for collecting and delivering the samples, and the central government will provide test personnel and laboratory services. Without the support of the central government, Hong Kong would not be able to handle such widespread testing, Lam said at a press conference on Friday. 

The community testing centers will be open from 8 am to 8 pm, and residents have to register online using personal information, including their name, cell phone number and ID, Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, Secretary for the Civil Service, said at the press conference. 

Lam expressed gratitude to the central government for its help, and said the central government is also helping Hong Kong build two temporary hospitals near the Asia World-Expo, offering up to 800 beds. The construction is likely to be completed in the next four months. 

Also on Friday, approximately 50 COVID-19 testing professionals from hospitals in South China's Guangdong Province arrived in Hong Kong to help the region conduct its universal testing project, and 60 percent of them have supported Wuhan and Beijing during the COVID-19 epidemic, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Friday. 

The central government had sent 10 testing professionals from the Chinese mainland to Hong Kong in early August, and more will be sent from Guangdong Province.  

Apart from sending testing personnel, Chinese mainland-linked laboratories - BGI, Kingmed and Hong Kong Molecular - have also been helping the city improve its testing capacity.

Since July 7, Hong Kong has been hit by an aggressive surge of COVID-19, resulting in the number of confirmed cases surging from 1,000 to more than 4,600 in one and a half months, Lam said. 

Hong Kong may face a possible coronavirus epidemic rebound in winter, and the resurgence of the COVID-19 will be inevitable before the effective vaccines are introduced. But with the citywide testing and new hospitals, Hong Kong will be better prepared for the next spikes, Lam said. 

Sophia Chan Siu-chee, Secretary for Food and Health, said at the conference that the Hong Kong government has made a request to the central government to support Hong Kong after the vaccines produced in the Chinese mainland are available. 

Fan Peng, a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Friday that the central government has always offered Hong Kong help when the latter is in trouble, be it the Asian financial crisis or when the city was ravaged by SARS.

The central government's sincere and heartwarming assistance stands in sharp contrast with some Western countries, which have been voicing their "support for Hong Kong to fight for freedom" when the city is paralyzed by riots, Fan said.

The Western countries' "loud" support is actually pushing Hong Kong to a deeper abyss, but when the city needs real help to fight coronavirus and save people's lives, it can only count on the central government to help them, he said.