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Government steps up COVID-19 testing arrangements to raise anti-epidemic awareness
     A Government spokesman announced today (June 27) that the Government will closely monitor the overall epidemic situation by stepping up COVID-19 testing arrangements with a view to preventing further rebound in epidemic situation due to the increase in people flow and social activities arising from the recent launch of events in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. The Government urged members of the public to maintain strong anti-epidemic awareness and conduct more frequent testing so that infected persons can be identified early and receive appropriate treatment.
     The Government spokesman said, "In the light of the risk of rebound of the epidemic in Hong Kong, the Government urges citizens to stay vigilant and strictly comply with the social distancing measures. They should also reduce participation in gatherings across families and mask-off activities. The Government will continue to adopt a risk-based testing strategy, and step up testing arrangement in the next few days with focus in high-risk districts where more cases and positive virus testing in sewage samples are detected."
Free distribution of COVID-19 rapid antigen test (RAT) kits
     Started from mid-January, the Government has been distributing free COVID-19 RAT kits in various districts across the city for citizens to take the test on their own, in a bid to help identify infected persons as early as possible. In addition, the Environment Bureau and the Environmental Protection Department conducted risk assessments based on sewage surveillance results and distributed some 22 million RAT kits to those in need (including residents of relevant districts, cleansing workers, property management staff and other high risk groups) through various District Offices, the Housing Department, property management companies and district organisations. Lately, positive results of sewage samples were detected in Wan Chai District, Sha Tin District and Yau Tsim Mong District, free RAT kits had been distributed to residents of these districts after risk assessments.
     The Government has been extending the free distribution of the RAT kits, including enhancing the distribution to frontline property management staff and construction sites, as well as to citizens joining the district celebration activities through the 18 District Offices for them to take self-tests.
     Furthermore, since mid-April, the Government has been distributing free RAT kits to elderly persons aged 60 or above through various elderly service units to support and encourage them to undergo self-testing regularly. As of mid-June, over 11 million kits were distributed through relevant channels. The Government will continue the distribution until the overall epidemic is further contained.
Compulsory testing notice (CTN) and restriction-testing declaration (RTD)
     At present, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) compiles the list of relevant premises based on epidemiological investigation and risk assessment, including recent epidemic data (such as positive cases and sewage surveillance results), and includes these premises in the compulsory testing notices, requesting relevant persons who visited (including residents, staff and visitors) to undergo nucleic acid tests. The Government has started to issue more CTNs in the abovementioned key areas since last weekend with a view to identifying infected persons as early as possible and curbing the transmission links.
     Besides, the Government conducts risk assessment by reviewing daily a basket of factors, including the viral load in sewage, the relevant positive cases, and other circumstantial factors, and then implements RTD operations in relevant districts and buildings. For instance, the sewage discharged from a number of buildings in Sha Tin District were tested positive for COVID-19 with relatively high viral load. Upon risk assessment, RTD operations were arranged in these buildings accordingly. The Government will closely monitor the epidemic development and carry out RTD operations when necessary to find out the infected persons and cut the transmission links early.
     The Government urged all members of the public to undergo testing frequently, continue to observe the social distancing measures, avoid going out as much as possible and taking part in crowded or unnecessary activities or gatherings, with a view to preventing the spread of virus in the community and reducing their chance of getting infected with COVID-19.
     The spokesman reminded that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe cases and deaths, providing effective protection to those vaccinated from serious complications and even death after infection. Eligible persons, especially the elderly aged 60 or above, should receive the fourth dose of vaccine as quickly as practicable. Other persons should also receive three doses of vaccine as early as possible before the local epidemic situation experiences any potential drastic change, so as to substantially reduce the risk of severe cases or deaths, thereby protecting themselves and their family members.
Ends/Monday, June 27, 2022
Issued at HKT 23:05
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