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Hong Kong completes mass COVID-19 testing, prepares for QR health code

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The photo taken on September 1, 2020 shows a COVID-19 testing station at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Hong Kong, China. (Xinhua / Wu Xiaochu)

Hong Kong is preparing for a new QR code health tracking system that will come into use soon after the city completes its COVID-19 testing program across the city, during which a total of 1,719 were tested. million people and 26 new confirmed cases have been identified.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) officially launched its massive nucleic acid testing program on September 1, as local authorities believe it is the best way for the city to control the epidemic and reopen its economy. . The program was originally planned to last seven days, but the SAR government has since extended the testing period twice, with the deadline finally set for September 14th.

As many as 1,719,000 residents have been tested for COVID-19 in the program since Sunday, making up 22.9 per cent of the city’s population, the HKSAR government said.

At least 160 people have been prevented from contracting the disease through the program as one confirmed case could infect four more people and cause more infections through second- and third-generation transmission, said Anthony Wu, president of one center diagnostic that participates in the mass by testing.

Wang Peiyu, a vice president at Peking University School of Public Health, told the Global Times on Monday that mass testing is important in controlling the third wave of the epidemic in the city and cutting off virus transmission to identified patients.

The program has helped the HKSAR government understand the entire epidemic situation at the community level and has achieved its ultimate goal, said Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, HKSAR Government Civil Service Secretary who was in charge of the program.

Dr Hung Fan Ngai Ivan, a clinical professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, estimated that there were still 40 to 50 potential patients in Hong Kong and believed it would take another four to six weeks before cases were cleared. new, according to media reports.

Hong Kong reported 19 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total to 4,958, according to statistics from the Hong Kong Center for Health Protection.

Paul Chan Mo-po, Hong Kong Secretary of Finance, HKSAR should prepare for a “normalization” of epidemic prevention and control mechanisms in the city through expanded evidence-based capacity across the city and the introduction of a system of health code when the epidemic is under control and no local cases of unknown origin are found.

Hong Kong health codes may be issued sooner in late September. Some testing institutions in Hong Kong have expanded testing to 50,000 samples a day, preparing for a potentially large market when the codes launch, according to local media.

Hung Kam-in, a member of Hong Kong’s Kwun Tong County Council, told the Global Times on Monday that it may still be some time before Hong Kong and the mainland can share a health code system as Hong Kong has not yet has complete epidemic control.

“But I personally hope we can have a mutually recognized code system as soon as possible to facilitate the exchange between Hong Kong and the territory,” Hung said.

The QR health code system aims to facilitate cross-border travel for residents and revive Hong Kong’s economy by helping residents obtain 14-day quarantine exemptions through mutually recognized nucleic acid test results, according to an email from the Bureau of Innovation and Technology in Hong Kong, which is in charge of the system, sent to the Global Times on September 7, noting that they understand that locals hope to resume trips between Hong Kong, the mainland and Macao as soon as possible.

The system has proven to be very useful for the daily prevention and control of epidemics based on experience from the mainland, Wang Peiyu noted.

As for the slander of some anti-government separatists for introducing Hong Kong the health code system, Hung believes it is a complete distortion.

“During the outbreak of the epidemic, the implementation of health codes can greatly facilitate the daily transportation of citizens, rather than being a hindrance,” Hung said.

The number of confirmed cases identified in the test was in line with the epidemic mitigation trend in the city and showed that the epidemic wave is about to end, he said.

As the third wave of the city epidemic is expected to end soon, testing for some specific and high-risk groups in Hong Kong will not stop once the mass testing program is over.

Groups such as the elderly and the physically challenged, public transport agency staff, hotel and restaurant staff, and government front-line civil servants will receive rehearsals from the government. 490,000 tests have been performed between these groups in recent months.

The HKSAR government’s Department of Social Welfare is said to be conducting the third round of tests for nursing homes within the next week.

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