"Throat swab" samples to be collected for free nucleic acid testing starting Tuesday

     The Government announced today (November 5) that "throat swab" samples will be collected for free nucleic acid tests conducted at community testing centres (CTCs), community testing stations (CTSs), ad-hoc specimen collection stations as well as inbound testing stations at the airport starting from November 8, replacing the current practice of collecting "combined nasal and throat swab" samples. Adjustment will also be made to the Compulsory Testing Notices correspondingly, such that "throat swab" will be accepted for testing.
     A Government spokesman said, "Switching to using 'throat swab' to collect upper respiratory tract specimen for nucleic acid test can also achieve high sensitivity. 'Throat swab' sample is one of the recommended upper respiratory tract specimens listed in the 9th edition of the Protocol for Prevention and Control of COVID-19 published by the National Health Commission and frequently used in the Mainland for large-scale nucleic acid testing (including centralised isolation and border control)."
     Trained personnel assigned by the service providers will observe the relevant guidelines issued by the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health during sample collection so as to ensure the specimen quality. The collection of "throat swab" samples by trained personnel can attain reliable sensitivity, reduce the duration taken for sample collection and at the same time streamline the specimen collection procedures. The adjustment is conducive to enhancing the overall efficiency and boosting the capacity of testing services, while not affecting nucleic acid tests' accuracy.
     The self-paid testing arrangement at CTC/CTSs will remain unchanged. Unless otherwise requested, "combined nasal and throat swabs" will continue be used for self-paid testing services. Members of the public may also opt for other specimen collection methods including taking "nasal swabs", "nasopharyngeal swabs" or "throat swab" that suits their needs, such as meeting the entry requirement of their travel destinations. The charge of self-paid testing services will remain the same.
     The Government will continue to monitor closely the speed, quantity and accuracy of nucleic acid testing services, with a view to providing ample, high-quality, speedy, accessible and affordable community testing services, as well as strengthening and regularising nucleic acid testing, so as to achieve the goal of precise prevention and control of the epidemic.

Ends/Saturday, November 5, 2022
Issued at HKT 21:06