Press Releases in Hong Kong

HK logs 2 cases, replaces deep-throat saliva tests with swabs

A health worker takes a swab from a man at a COVID-19 testing center setup outside the immigration headquarters in Hong Kong on April 24, 2021. (PETER  PARKS / AFP)

HONG KONG – Hong Kong reported two new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday as the government announced that deep-throat saliva specimens will be replaced by combined nasal and throat swabs as the recognized compulsory testing method in a bid to enhance the effectiveness of COVID-19 testing.

The Centre for Health Protection said in a statement that the new patients included a 31-year-old man who arrived from South Korea and a 25-year-old man from Serbia. Both showed no symptoms.

The patient who traveled from South Korea was vaccinated against COVID-19 in Pakistan on June 23 and July 26 while the other patient was got his jabs in Serbia on March 31 and April 21. 

The CHP said the city’s tally stood at 12,131, with 65 imported cases being reported from Aug 25 to Sept 7.

Also starting Wednesday, people subject to compulsory testing will be required to undergo professional swab sampling at a mobile specimen collection station, community testing center or recognized local medical testing institution to fulfill compulsory testing requirements.

Young children may continue to undergo the compulsory testing using a stool specimen, a government spokesman said

These include people who need to get tested in accordance with a compulsory testing notice related to a confirmed COVID-19 case and those linked to an outbreak of upper respiratory tract infection or influenza-like illness in a school. Currently there are 18 community testing centers providing professional swab sampling services.

Young children, however, may continue to undergo the test using a stool specimen, a government spokesman said.

People arriving in Hong Kong from Wednesday must also undergo testing with professional swab sampling.

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“Such a requirement is applicable to Hong Kong arrivals who have completed compulsory quarantine or isolation in a designated quarantine hotel or at home but still need to undergo compulsory testing, and those arriving in Hong Kong under the Return2hk and Come2hk schemes,” the spokesman said.

For people subject to compulsory testing in accordance with specific social distancing measures as well as specific trades, the government will no longer accept their deep throat saliva specimens for compulsory testing, the spokesman said, adding that details will be announced in due course.

Compulsory testing using deep throat saliva specimens will continue to be conducted under certain circumstances, including testing provided by medical practitioners for suspected symptomatic patients, testing for inbound travelers during home quarantine or isolation, confirmatory tests for inbound travelers staying at quarantine hotels or facilities, and testing for people who are incapable of receiving swab sampling due to health or age reasons.

The government will distribute sufficient deep throat saliva specimen collection packs at boundary control points to inbound travelers who are required to undergo home quarantine or isolation. Other inbound travelers will not get the packs, the government said.

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Free deep throat saliva specimen collection packs will still be provided through various channels to people who undergo testing on a voluntary basis, it added.