'Infection risks to care home staff at test centres' - RTHK
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'Infection risks to care home staff at test centres'

2020-12-01 HKT 13:29
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  • The Council of Social Service is worried that infection risks may increase if tens of thousands of care home workers are required to visit testing centres. File Photo: RTHK
    The Council of Social Service is worried that infection risks may increase if tens of thousands of care home workers are required to visit testing centres. File Photo: RTHK
Maggie Ho reports
The Council of Social Service on Tuesday voiced opposition to the government’s order for care home workers to get tested for Covid-19 at its community testing centres, saying it would increase infection risks and seriously affect the operation of care facilities.

In a statement, the council said the new order is affecting tens of thousands of care home workers.

“We’re worried our workers’ risk of being infected would increase if they have to visit the testing centres. It would in turn put care home residents’ at risk,” the statement says.

The council says care home staff may have to wait for a long time at the testing centres because there are daily quotas for tests.

"Asking care home staff to visit testing centres during their work hours will seriously affect the normal operations of the institutions. If care home staff are required to get tested on their days off, it may be considered overtime work,” it says.

It says the government should instead collect saliva specimens from care home workers or arrange testing staff to visit the care homes and collect samples for tests.

Former Labour Party and social welfare lawmaker, Fernando Cheung, has voiced similar concerns about care home staff getting tested at government community centres.

He suggested giving employees a subsidy to get tested at private centres, or sending health personnel to care homes to conduct testing.

Staff at care homes have until December 14 to get tested for Covid-19 in order to continue working. Those who fail to comply with be fined HK$2,000.