Testing labs won't be given any personal data: CE - RTHK
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Testing labs won't be given any personal data: CE

2020-08-07 HKT 16:59
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  • Testing labs won't be given any personal data: CE
Chief Executive Carrie Lam sought to reassure people that privacy will be protected as authorities rolled out a universal coronavirus test programme, saying the testing facilities will not be given any personal details of the sample giver.

Some critics had raised concerns about personal data being compromised after reports emerged of efforts to ramp up nucleic acid test capacity in Hong Kong with the help of mainland authorities. But Lam rejected such concerns.

"This protection has gone all the way to the extent that the laboratories will not be given any personal information," said Lam.

"They are only given the specimen bottles for them to conduct tests on the specimen, and then to tell the Department of Health of the specimen coming in bottles, which are the ones that are found to be positive."

"How we identify those positives is not done by the laboratory, it’s done by the Department of Health through the bar code, the code number," she said.

Lam added that this system is already in operation for community screening in elderly care homes. The labs will inform the Social Welfare Department which samples have tested positive for Covid-19, and it was up to the SWD to match the bar code on the samples to the person.

Lam asked: “Without the personal information, what's the point of taking all these specimen and saliva and so on?”

She also addressed concerns by some that a group of mainland experts tasked with helping the SAR ramp up its Covid-19 testing were exempted from undergoing mandatory 14-day quarantine. There were also calls on the authorities to ensure that the group have their qualifications checked and registered as per local regulations.

"Let me just stress that these personnel coming to help us to boost the testing capacity are not unqualified people," said Lam.

"So please don’t misunderstand they are unqualified people to do medical laboratory tests and we are making them qualified. No, they are qualified in the mainland system but they want to operate in accordance with the Hong Kong legal system, so our law does provide for the exemption for certain categories of people."

Lam also confirmed that the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Sports Centre will be turned into a laboratory, and that about 60 testing staff from the mainland will be exempted from the mandatory 14-day quarantine to that they can come and help with the city's anti-epidemic work.

She said 1,000 beds would be added to the new medical facility currently at AsiaWorld-Expo on Lantau, while a temporary hospital would be built on a 32,000-square-metre site next to the expo.