Public thanked for co-operation

The Food & Health Bureau today thanked the public for their co-operation in undergoing compulsory testing for COVID-19.   The bureau said for local cases with unknown sources of infection involving mutant strains, the Government has to be decisive in swiftly adopting stringent testing and quarantine measures to cut the transmission chains as soon as possible, otherwise there will be significant consequences for society to bear in the event of a major outbreak.   From mid-December 2020 to the end of February this year, foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) were offered a one-off free test on a voluntary basis at community testing centres. Over 34,000 helpers, equivalent to less than 10% of the total number of FDHs in Hong Kong, had received voluntary testing during the period.   The Government requested on April 30 that all FDHs in the city who had yet to complete a COVID-19 vaccination course to receive testing on a compulsory basis on or before May 9.   In accordance with the established practice, the decision was made solely on public health grounds after detailed risk assessment.   The factors taken into account include two recent cases of the N501Y mutant strain being FDHs with unknown sources of infection, the high transmissibility of mutant strains, as well as one of the confirmed cases having had gatherings and contact with other FDHs during the incubation and infection periods.   The bureau said although the sheer number of helpers in the city would challenge the local testing capacity in the short term, the Government needed to maintain its efforts in testing high-risk, high-exposure and high transmissibility risk groups to cut the latent transmission chains in the community as early as possible.   The Government thanked all those who received tests, including FDHs, for their patience and understanding, adding that it will enhance the testing capacity in the coming few days to enable people to get tested.   The bureau noted that in view of the threat posed by the mutant strains, it is imperative to get vaccinated.   It pointed out that the two vaccines procured by the Government are sufficient for all Hong Kong people to get vaccinated. There are still plenty of unutilised quotas in the community vaccination centres and private clinics.   The bureau called on the public to treasure the vaccine supply in Hong Kong and get vaccinated as soon as possible.   In view of the surge in testing demand within a short period of time, the Government set up 18 new mobile specimen collection stations today and will add one more station for FDHs at Kowloon Park tomorrow.   The operating hours of the stations set up by the Labour Department and the Food & Health Bureau at four popular helper gathering places are extended to 8pm.
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