Mass testing in Hong Kong beginning in September, what to expect?
September 7, 2020
On September 1, the government began its mass testing program as the latest population-wide measure to combat COVID-19. Free testing for COVID-19 is provided across 141 different centers, in 18 districts of Hong Kong, on a voluntary basis.
The main objective of this program is to identify undetected carriers present in the community. As mentioned in the press release of September 6, out of 15 local cases, the sources of infection of 7 cases remain unknown, indicating that the chain of transmission in the community is still not fully observed. Detecting those asymptomatic and unrecognised cases will help to reduce further the transmission, by isolating carriers and quarantining their contacts.
However, we expect to observe an increase in the local cases reported in the short-term, as these additional cases are identified and reported. Up to September 6, a total of 15 cases were identified by the mass testing program, including 4 which were recovered cases and posed a low risk of transmission. This resurgence does not mandatorily mean that the transmission has increased in the community, but that we can observe more clearly the transmission chain among the general population and identify cases that would otherwise have gone unrecognised.
While this policy will help us to understand more on the level of unrecognized infections in the community, we need to keep in mind that this is a snapshot of the level of infections at the start of September, and persons who test negative might still have a risk of acquiring infection at a later date. We must continue to be vigilant in wearing a mask, practicing good hand hygiene and keeping a good distance from each other, to do our part in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
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