Health Secretary Sophia Chan said from Saturday onwards, doctors will be given the power to order patients with Covid-19 symptoms to undergo mandatory tests.
Speaking to reporters after attending a Chief Executive question-and-answer session in the Legislative Council on Thursday, Chan urged people to abide by their doctors' instructions, saying getting tested early is crucial to stopping silent transmissions within the community.
She added that private doctors are generally receptive of the idea, and have agreed to work closely with the government on the matter.
She had earlier said that there wouldn’t be a rigid definition of who should be tested, but "doctors must act according to their professional judgement."
If a patient refuses to take a test, they could end up with a HK$25,000 fine and up to six months in prison.
The health chief added that over the next few days, five more testing centres at the Lai King, Tuen Mun, Fanling, Hang Hau and Yau Tong community halls will begin operation to cater for an expected surge in demand.
Specimen bottles will also be distributed at the territory's 121 post offices from Saturday.
The latest arrangements come as sources say Hong Kong will record 82 new coronavirus cases on Thursday.