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Universal testing not a priority now, says CE

09 March 2022

By The SUN

CE Lam she will hold daily press conferences at 11am to update the people on the Covid situation

In an apparent change of heart, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said the planned compulsory universal testing is not the government’s main focus in its campaign to control the epidemic, but the need to prevent deaths from Covid-19, especially among the elderly.

Speaking at the first of the daily conferences she said she would be doing while the infection surge continues, Mrs Lam said, “We are still doing the planning and the preparation, but it (universal testing) is not our priority right now.”

She no longer gave a time frame for conducting universal testing, saying the government will be following closely the development of the epidemic to decide when it might be best to launch it.

In late February, she said universal testing for all of Hong Kong’s 7.4 million residents will be done within this month, with each person being tested three times. Subsequent reports indicated a citywide lockdown might be imposed while the testing is held, prompting panic buying.

Today, Mrs Lam said, “Such a large-scale universal compulsory testing must be decided in accordance with the development of the epidemic situation. I would not ignore the reality just because I have given a date or spoken a statement.”

What the government is focusing on now, according to her, is to prevent more deaths from Covid-19, especially among the elderly.


She noted that 2,365 people had died in the fifth wave of the epidemic, and most of them were the elderly and unvaccinated residents of care homes.

“We must spare no effort in protecting the lives of our elderly residents,” she said.

As part of such effort, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei will be converted into a Covid-19 hospital. “From today, it will no longer admit non-Covid patients,” Lam said.

In the next three to four days, non-Covid patients at the hospital will be moved to other public or private hospitals.


In addition, about 9,000 additional beds at other public hospitals will also be reserved for Covid patients.

In future, elderly patients with mild symptoms but require medical care will be moved to isolation facilities located at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and seven sports centres.

Altogether, an additional 16,000 beds will be freed up for Covid patients.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital stopped admitting non-Covid patients from today

To further protect elderly people, the government plans to vaccinate all of those who are in care homes by Mar 18, unless they are medically unfit to get the jab.

As a further protection, staff will be placed in a closed-loop arrangement in which they will be made to stay at designated hotels and driven to and from work to prevent them getting infected in the community and bringing the virus back into the care homes.


As of Tuesday, 690 care homes for the elderly, making up 86.9% of the total, had reported coronavirus outbreaks. A total of 16,200 residents and 4,470 staff had been infected.

Care homes for the disabled have been badly hit as well, with 230 such facilities, or 68.7% of the total, reporting outbreaks. So far, 4,800 residents and 1,710 staff have tested positive.

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