Government announces nucleic acid testing arrangement to be implemented since January 8 for resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and Mainland
Requirements for nucleic acid test for resumption of normal travel
Starting from January 8, all persons heading to the Mainland from Hong Kong must possess a valid self-paid nucleic acid test result meeting the following criteria for entry into the Mainland:
- The test must be conducted within 48 hours before the scheduled flight departure time (for those entering the Mainland via airport) or arrival time (for those entering the Mainland via other boundary control points);
- The test specimen must be throat swab, nasopharyngeal swab or combined nasal and throat swab collected by dedicated staff. Deep throat saliva specimen is not accepted; and
- The test result must be negative, and the test report must be issued by local COVID-19 testing institutions recognised by the HKSAR Government (including community testing centres/community testing stations (CTC/CTSs) in various districts) for conducting reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction testing (www.coronavirus.gov.hk/pdf/List_of_recognised_laboratories.pdf).
Cross-boundary persons with a valid test result report, i.e. the testing was conducted within the past 48 hours, may use the same report to cross the boundary for more than once without the need to conduct multiple nucleic acid tests. This arrangement also applies to the test result reports issued by the Mainland COVID-19 nucleic acid testing institutions.
Self-paid service provided by community testing network
The Government has set up more than 80 community testing centres/community testing stations (CTC/CTSs) in various districts across the city. These CTC/CTSs provide self-paid nucleic acid testing service and issue test result reports for travel and other purposes, including for travelling to the Mainland.
The self-paid testing service is provided in two ways: standard self-paid service (service price capped at $150) and express self-paid service (service price capped at $240). The Government recommends cross-boundary persons to use the standard self-paid service under normal circumstances. Unless in cases that positive results are detected and more time is required for checking and confirmation, cross-boundary persons using the standard self-paid service will receive the test result within 24 hours of specimen collection, enabling them to have sufficient time for entering the Mainland.
The CTC/CTSs accept payment by cash or contactless payment methods (e.g. Octopus, mobile payment or credit card). Owing to security considerations, outdoor testing points do not accept cash payment.
Furthermore, in order to streamline the specimen collection procedures, throat swab samples instead of combined nasal and throat swab samples will be collected for self-paid nucleic acid tests conducted at CTC/CTSs starting from tomorrow (January 7), unless requested otherwise by testees. Testees may request and opt for other specimen collection methods that suit their own needs, such as for meeting the entry requirement of their travel destinations. The charge of these self-paid testing services remains the same.
Online booking for testing service
While currently there are sufficient online booking quota, the Government strongly advises testees to book testing time slots online in advance and use the "Testing Registration Code" for registration to ensure that they can conduct testing in a timely manner while reducing their time of waiting on site. To cope with the needs arising from resumption of normal travel, the available time slots open up for online booking will be increased from the next two weeks to the next four weeks. In case the quota of self-paid service at individual CTC/CTS is full on a certain day, testees may conduct self-paid testing in other CTC/CTSs.
Testees can use local or non-local (including the Mainland or overseas places) mobile phone numbers for booking and registration, as long as the phone numbers can receive SMS in Hong Kong (e.g. by having the roaming service activated), enabling them to receive the SMS on booking confirmation. When undergoing the nucleic acid test, they are required to bring along the necessary identification documents (such as a valid Hong Kong identity card), the documents required for entry to their destination (e.g. Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macau Residents or other travel document) and the mobile phone provided for booking for verification by the staff, so as to ensure that relevant SMS can be delivered to the right person.
Apart from community testing facilities, some private hospitals and private laboratories also provide self-paid nucleic acid testing service for cross-boundary travel. The list of recognised local testing institutions is available on the Government website (www.coronavirus.gov.hk/pdf/List_of_recognised_laboratories.pdf).
Test result report
For self-paid testing, community testing operators and private laboratories generally provide test results in electronic or paper form for individuals using self-paid testing service as a certification for travel to various destinations around the world (including the Mainland). In a bid to provide greater convenience to persons heading to the Mainland from Hong Kong, starting from today, persons who used the self-paid testing service can download their "self-paid nucleic acid testing electronic record" from the COVID-19 Electronic Testing Record System and present the relevant record in electronic or paper form or screen capture for checking by staff at the boundary control points. Cross-boundary persons may also continue to present the electronic or paper form reports issued by testing institutions for checking purpose.
As for free testing, as in previous practice, results of free community test shown in mobile phone SMS will not be accepted for cross-boundary and outbound travel. The aforementioned Electronic Testing Record System will also cease to support the downloading of electronic records of free test from today onwards.
Undergoing testing in an orderly manner
The Government had a series of measures in place to enhance the community testing service since the middle of last year. All community testing service contractors were also reminded to get well-prepared for providing nucleic acid tests required in relation to the first phase resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland with effect from January 8. Aside from handling the high-risk groups that are still subject to nucleic acid testing on a regular basis, the Government estimated that CTCs/CTSs still have sufficient quota and capacity to cope with over 100 000 self-paid tests per day at the initial stage of the resumption of normal travel.
The Government spokesman said, "Under the first phase resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland with effect from January 8, all persons entering the Mainland from Hong Kong must possess a negative result of a self-paid COVID-19 nucleic acid test within 48 hours before the scheduled flight departure time (for those entering the Mainland via airport) or arrival time (for those entering the Mainland via other boundary control points). Currently the operation of all CTC/CTSs is normal with sufficient online booking quota. If persons preparing to enter the Mainland would like to conduct nucleic acid test at CTC/CTS, the Government strongly advises them to book testing time slots online in advance. This will help arrange for them to undergo self-paid testing in an orderly and timely manner while avoiding over-crowding at certain testing stations/centres and inconvenience caused to relevant persons."
Ends/Friday, January 6, 2023
Issued at HKT 13:47
Issued at HKT 13:47