Government makes "restriction-testing declaration" and issues compulsory testing notice in respect of specified "restricted area" in Kwun Tong

     The Government today (January 31) exercised the power under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Compulsory Testing for Certain Persons) Regulation (Cap. 599J) to make a "restriction-testing declaration" (declaration) effective from 7pm, by which people (hereafter referred to as "persons subject to compulsory testing") within the specified "restricted area" in Kwun Tong (i.e. Block 5, 31 Laguna Street and Block 7, 27 Laguna Street, Laguna City, Lam Tin. See Annex.) are required to stay in their premises and undergo compulsory testing in accordance with the arrangement by the Government. Persons subject to compulsory testing are required to stay in their premises until all such persons identified in the area have undergone testing and the test results are mostly ascertained. The Government aims at finishing this exercise at about 7am tomorrow (February 1), in order to achieve the goal of zero cases in the district with concerted efforts.
     A Government spokesman said, "Under Cap. 599J, the Government can, according to the needs of infection control, make a restriction-testing declaration."
     "The Government has issued compulsory testing notices in respect of Block 5 and Block 7 of Laguna City. However, outbreaks in the area remained severe. From January 18 to 29, 2021, 15 confirmed cases were recorded in Block 5 and Block 7. The Centre for Health Protection has evacuated some residents living in Block 5 of Laguna City within the 'restricted area' to quarantine centre earlier. Residents are worried of the situation. After risk assessment, we think it is necessary to issue a restriction-testing declaration and compulsory testing notice for the 'restricted area' to confirm all persons in the 'restricted area' have undergone compulsory testing, so as to break the transmission chain in the district and dispel the worries of residents in the district."
     The Government will set up temporary specimen collection stations at the "restricted area" and request persons subject to compulsory testing to undergo testing before 2am tomorrow. Persons subject to compulsory testing will be arranged to undergo nucleic acid test at specimen collection stations where dedicated staff will collect samples through combined nasal and throat swabs. Persons subject to compulsory testing must stay at their place of residence until all test results are ascertained to avoid cross-infection risk. The Government will arrange door-to-door specimen collection for people with impaired mobility and elderly persons, or make arrangement for them to self-collect and submit the deep throat saliva specimen.
     "We understand that this exercise will cause inconvenience to the public. The Government has made arrangements to carry out testing for all persons present in the 'restricted area' as soon as possible at night. The aim is to strive to complete testing of all identified persons subject to compulsory testing and confirm the results, and finish the exercise at around 7am tomorrow with a view to allowing residents to start getting to work around 7am. The Government will make public announcement when the declaration expires officially. In the case when employees are unable to go to work because of the declaration, the Government hopes their employers can exercise discretion and not to deduct the salary or benefit from the employees.
     "The Government understands that quite some residents already underwent testing at the testing station set up at Sai Tso Wan Neighbourhood Community Centre from January 22 to January 24, 2021, and from January 29 to January 31, 2021. Around 1 200 residents from Block 5 and Block 7 of Laguna City have undertaken the testing. The Government thanked them for their co-operation. However, in order to break the transmission chain in Laguna City completely, we think it is necessary to make a new declaration and notice for Block 5 and Block 7 of Laguna City."
     Persons in the "restricted area" who have undergone testing from January 29 to 31, 2021, and are able to provide the SMS notification through mobile phone or related certification containing the test results, are not required to take the test again. However, they are required to stay in their premises until all such persons identified in the area have undergone testing and the test results are mostly ascertained. Also, according to the compulsory testing notice issued today, any person who had been present at Block 5 and Block 7 of Laguna City for more than two hours from January 29 to 31, 2021, even if they were not present in the "restricted area" at the time when the declaration took effect, they must undergo compulsory testing by the same time as mentioned above.
     In order to maintain public and emergency services within the "restricted area", the Government and relevant working staff (such as healthcare officers and other officers, testing service providers engaged by the Government, cleaning service providers, etc.) are allowed to enter and leave the "restricted area" on condition that personal information and contacts are given, as well as certain infection control instructions are followed (including undergoing testing before leaving the "restricted area" without the need to wait for the test results).
     The Government has prepared simple food and cleaning supplies for the residents restricted by the declaration. The Kwun Tong District Office has set up a hotline (Tel: 2756 0665), which starts operation from 7pm today, for residents restricted by the declaration to make enquiries and seek assistance. The Social Welfare Department will also provide assistance to the affected persons.
     The Government understands the residents in the district are worried and anxious because of the increase in confirmed cases in recent days. The Government hopes this temporary inconvenience will completely cut the local transmission chains and ease residents' worries and fear, so that they will regain confidence in resuming social and business activities in the area, and return to a normal life.
     The Government appeals to persons subject to compulsory testing for their full co-operation by registering and undergoing testing, and waiting for the result patiently at home. The Government will strictly follow up on whether the concerned persons have complied with the compulsory testing notices and restriction-testing declaration. Any person who fails to comply with the compulsory testing notices commits an offence and may be fined a fixed penalty of $5,000. The person would also be issued with a compulsory testing order requiring him or her to undergo testing within a specified time frame. Failure to comply with the compulsory testing order or the restriction-testing declaration is an offence and the offender would be liable to a fine at level 4 ($25,000) and imprisonment for six months.

Ends/Sunday, January 31, 2021
Issued at HKT 23:30