Make tests mandatory before new wave: Yuen Kwok-yung - RTHK
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Make tests mandatory before new wave: Yuen Kwok-yung

2020-10-27 HKT 13:00
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  • Yuen Kwok-yung says Covid tests are already compulsory for all visitors and government should explain to the public the need for such a step. File photo: RTHK
    Yuen Kwok-yung says Covid tests are already compulsory for all visitors and government should explain to the public the need for such a step. File photo: RTHK
A government adviser on the coronavirus said tests should be made mandatory for patients with mild Covid-19 symptoms, warning if nothing is done to expand the tests it would be "July all over again".

Hong Kong experienced its biggest spike in Covid cases in July during the third wave with daily cases jumping to triple digits for a period.

The number of new Covid cases has since dwindled, but the government recently floated the idea of testing specific segments of the population, such as those with mild symptoms, to try to contain the outbreak.

But critics say such a move could deter patients who might fear that a trip to the doctors could result in them being placed in isolation in hospital.

University of Hong Kong microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung said the government should try to convince the public by explaining the pros and cons of legislating for mandatory tests, saying he believes people would then accept the practice.

He explained that people are less inclined to be tested amid a lull in cases, and that there are cases that are bound to be undetected.

The expert said compulsory virus testing is already in place at the airport, and that there is an existing mechanism for doctors to report suspected tuberculosis patients to the Department of Health.

Yuen also said doctors should report to the authorities patients who refuse to be tested, but this shouldn’t harm the relationship between doctors and patients.

But Yuen admitted that it's hard to completely fend off the virus among incoming travellers because they could test false-negative upon arrival and then spread the virus in the community.

He said there should be no further easing of social distancing measures without compulsory testing for those with Covid symptoms.