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HK to give $5k to people who test positive for Covid-19

22 November 2020

By The SUN

Dr Chan says no means test will be used in giving the $5k to infected people (RTHK photo)

Hong Kong Health Secretary Sophia Chan said today, Nov 22, that the government will begin giving a one-off $5,000 handout to anyone in the city who tests positive for Covid-19, in a bid to allay concerns of people who avoid getting tested because of fear of being forced off work.

“We hope this subsidy can encourage low-income residents who may be worried about losing their salaries if they have to be quarantined because they are infected to come forward and get tested,” said Dr Chan in a press briefing.

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She added the main recipients will be people who test positive and have a need for the subsidy. However, she said applicants would not be means-tested.

It was not immediately clear if the handout would also be given to newly arrived migrant workers, who account for a big number of the imported cases reported in the city on an almost daily basis.

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Migrant workers who get infected in their employers’ homes would, however, most likely qualify. As it is, the helpers could already claim employee compensation under Hong Kong’s labour laws as the illness in these cases is clearly work-related, but the Consulate does not have any record of anyone who had taken up this option.

The health chief said the exact details of the scheme would be announced at a later date by the Labour and Welfare Department.

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She made the announcement as mandatory Covid-19 testing got underway today for people who visited 14 dance clubs across Hong Kong linked to a massive outbreak that was first detected on Friday.

In just three days, the number of infections in the cluster that started with Starlight Dance Club in Wanchai had grown to 80, including 46 of the 68 new cases that were recorded today.

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Everyone who visited any of the clubs starting on Nov 1 are compelled to submit themselves to test until Nov 24, or face a $2,000 fixed penalty.

The government says it will announce shortly a list of high-risk groups that will be included in the compulsory testing, including taxi drivers and care home workers, as well as people with symptoms.

5 more community testing centres will be set up by the government 

In todays’ interview, Chan said the government would set up five more community testing centers on top of the four that were already operating.

"We will be increasing the number of testing centres in the coming week. Obviously it will be in different districts in Hong Kong," Chan said.

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In addition, a mobile swabbing station or a van that distributes specimen bottles would be deployed in a particular district, if a surge in cases is detected in the area, as what happened in Tai Po recently.

Chan said the additional testing centres would make it easier for people compelled to take the test, to comply with the order.

Meanwhile, the free testing offered to all foreign domestic workers through specimen collection on the bridge leading to Immigration Tower in Wanchai, ended Saturday. There has been no word on whether the service will be extended, given the new surge in infections.

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