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FDHs among first to snap up new offer of free Covid-19 test

11 October 2020

By The SUN 

Health Secretary Dr Sophia Chan visits the Wanchai temporary testing centre
(from Dr Chan's FB account)

Foreign domestic helpers were among the first in line for the new round of free Covid-19 tests offered at temporary testing sites to be set up in four districts across Hong Kong starting today, Oct 10. The fresh round of testing is meant to stem the rise in new locally acquired infections.

The first temporary site to open was at Harbour Road Sports Centre in Wan Chai. This is the same place where FDHs in-between jobs were also offered free tests for the coronavirus about two months ago, in the wake of a rash of infections in boarding houses run by employment agencies.

This came as six new confirmed cases were reported today by the Centre for Health Protection, raising the city’s total tally to 5,175, with 105 deaths.

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Three of the cases were locally acquired, including a 29-year-old man who works at Manulife who had visited the China Secret and Virgo bars in Tsim Sha Tsui, on the same night as a previously confirmed patient.

There are now a total of 12 cases linked to China Secret and a hostel in Tsim Sha Tsui where a 36-year-old Thai woman who is suspected to have illegally worked in the bar, had stayed.

Also included among the local infections was a 55-year-old resident of Home of Treasure in Kwai Chung, a care home for the disabled, where 13 cases have now been linked.

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The third local case was a 41-year-old woman who lives in Tung Chung and was linked to a previously known infection.

The three other cases were all imported, and involved residents returning from India.

Before the Wan Chai testing centre opened at 10am Saturday, reports said a couple of FDHs were already lined up, saying they were told to get themselves tested by their employer or their employment agency, ahead of moving on to a new job.

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The other applicants were residents who feared getting infected as they had been to places where patients recently confirmed to have the virus had stayed. These include the Royal Garden Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui which was shut down Friday after four of its male staff tested positive for the virus.

The government decided to open temporary testing centres in Wan Chai, Kwai Tsing, Kowloon City and YauTsimMong (Yau Ma Tei, Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok) as part of measures to stop a resurgence in local infections, especially those of unknown source.

Next to open is the Kwai Tsing Temporary Testing Centre located at Shek Lei Community Hall, which will start operating at 1pm on Sunday, Oct 11. This is the district where the stricken Home of Treasure care home is located.

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A government statement said the Wan Chai and Kwai Tsing centres will be open until next Wednesday, Oct 14. The centres in Kowloon City and TST are due to open soon.

The Wan Chai centre will be open from 10am to 8pm on October 10 and from 8am to 1.30pm and 2.30pm to 8pm on the following four days (October 11 to 14). The expected daily testing capacity is 1 000 specimens.

The one in Kwai Tsing will operate from 1pm to 8pm on Oct 11, and from 8am to 1:30pm and 2:30pm to 8pm on Oct 12 to 14.

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Those who wish to be tested can register with their Hong Kong ID card and phone number at the temporary centre, and a text message will be sent if the result is negative. Cases with positive results will be relayed to the CHP for follow-up.

The government statement said the temporary district-based testing is voluntary and free of charge, and no prior appointment is required for those who want to get tested.

The free test is available to all asymptomatic residents especially considered at high risk of contracting the virus, except children aged below six years old and those with nasal problems.

Those who get the test kits can drop their specimen sample at the mobile van

To stem an outbreak in bars, the government, along with private laboratory Prenetics, has also set out to conduct mobile testing among staff and patrons of pubs in three key districts.

Prenetics staff first distributed specimen bottles in pubs along Lan Kwai Fong, Central, on Friday night, while its mobile van was parked near Wyndham Street.

The van’s next stops are Tsim Sha Tsui and Wan Chai over the weekend.

The specimen bottles will be collected after one or two days for testing. But the bottles may also be returned to the collection mobile van parked at Hoi Chak Street in Quarry Bay from 9am to 5pm between October 10 and 12.

Separately, the Home Affairs Department and charitable organization Lok Sin Tong have also started distributing specimen bottles to Thai nationals in Kowloon City. Five Thai women, including one suspected of working illegally at China Secret, have recently tested positive for the virus. 

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