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Universal self-testing to speed up the search for confirmed cases in the community

2022-01-18T10:19:19.688Z

The Home Affairs Department purchased 300,000 rapid test kits for the new coronavirus this month, and it is expected that each district will distribute them to residents in need to do their own rapid tests. Compared with national testing, a certain scale of public self-testing



The Home Affairs Department purchased 300,000 rapid test kits for the new coronavirus this month, and it is expected that each district will distribute them to residents in need to do their own rapid tests.

Compared with national testing, a certain scale of public self-testing is a compromise. While reducing the time for residents to queue for community testing, it can identify, isolate and treat confirmed cases as soon as possible, suppress community transmission, and alleviate the epidemic.


In response to a number of Omicron novel coronavirus infection cases related to Tuen Mun, the government recently requested some residents in the residence to undergo compulsory inspection, and encouraged other citizens to take samples, resulting in long queues.

After opening additional testing stations and distributing 3,000 rapid test kits to people in the district for free, the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau announced on Monday (17th) that a total of 300,000 kits will be distributed free of charge to residents in need in various districts through regional organizations in the next few weeks. At the same time, it is emphasized that those who are included in the strong test should continue to undergo swab sampling and testing.

Of course, the ideal way to find out who has been diagnosed in the community in a short period of time is to test the whole population.

For example, residents of mainland cities including Shenzhen, Zhongshan, Zhuhai and other cities are required to carry out mandatory nationwide testing for several days to more than ten days to ensure that no latent cases are leaked and the transmission chain is not cut off.

A total of 1.783 million people participated in the "Universal Community Testing Programme", with the three districts of Kwun Tong, Yuen Long and Sha Tin the most.

(File photo/Photo by Yu Junliang) (File photo/Photo by Yu Junliang)

Self-testing is a compromise

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor again refused to test for the whole population on Tuesday (18th), citing that it was difficult for the government to issue a "foot-stop order" at the same time, and the public may not accept it.

The economic and manpower arrangements for universal testing are expensive, but if this arrangement can help the fight against the epidemic be resolved quickly, it might be a solution.

In contrast, the more important issue is that Hong Kong may not be able to handle hundreds of thousands of tests a day.

Furthermore, the example of Tuen Mun shows that the government has "drained the crabs" even in a large-scale test in one district, not to mention that it has to deal with more districts at the same time?

The government did not prepare for a worsening situation when the epidemic slowed down, and it was too late when it really got worse.

Now that this is the case, the distribution of rapid test kits to the public is a compromise for the urgent need.

This will help to identify hidden confirmed cases, reduce their chances of spreading the virus during their incubation period, and help the epidemic ease as soon as possible.

Similar practices have been implemented or are about to be implemented in other countries. The United Kingdom implemented it early last year. The US government is purchasing one billion doses of self-test kits, which will be available for online registration by citizens from Wednesday (19th).

In response to the epidemic, hundreds of people lined up for testing at On Ting Community Hall in Tuen Mun.

(Photo by Zheng Zifeng)

The number of 300,000 sets seems to be a lot, but considering the incubation period of Omicron or Delta of about four days, assuming that each person takes two sets and uses them on the first and last two days of the four days, the number can only be used by 150,000 people.

Furthermore, family members are at a higher risk of infection than other groups. If the distribution method is based on family units, it may cause some families to fail.

The government and the public should regard the suits as a triage for testing the population, community testing stations should remain open, and the public should be willing to do all the tests.

How positive cases are handled

Recently, an employee of a pet shop in Causeway Bay was found to be infected with Delta, and the initial diagnosis was only a few days after the onset of the disease. Another customer was diagnosed. Officials estimate that an invisible chain of transmission has emerged in the community. Time for self-examination.

It is true that self-testing is less accurate than nucleic acid sampling, and it relies on individuals to test step by step, but it is still a method to assist in finding community cases and reduce the load on testing stations.

The government's next job is to educate the public about the arrangements after a user tests positive.

A person in charge of the product said that if a user has a positive result, they can call the agency first and then come to the agency to conduct a nucleic acid test, which will be reported to the Department of Health after confirmation.

However, how to ensure that users truthfully inform the organization?

The government has not implemented home quarantine, so it is difficult to ensure that someone conceals or delays reporting, and only goes out to seek medical treatment when symptoms appear.

The government should set up a mechanism to reduce delays in reporting cases, such as online or automated telephone reporting of results, which can be prosecuted by law.

The fight against the epidemic is urgent, and the government has decided to purchase and distribute rapid test kits, which I believe will only be a matter of a few days.

Having said that, after all, the purchase amount is tens of millions of yuan, and the free distribution will reduce the demand of citizens to buy other brands at their own expense.

Therefore, the Government should announce the rationale for selecting a supplier, and try to make the selection mechanism fair and transparent.

Is Hong Kong capable of doing large-scale testing?

Dynamic clearing and balancing requires a pinch and tightness test explanation

Source: hk1

All news articles on 2022-01-18

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