Postpone city-wide tests to April: HKU researchers - RTHK
Temperature Humidity
News Archive Can search within past 12 months

Postpone city-wide tests to April: HKU researchers

2022-03-01 HKT 18:22
Share this story facebook
  • HKU medical experts say they expect daily Covid cases to peak soon. File photo: RTHK
    HKU medical experts say they expect daily Covid cases to peak soon. File photo: RTHK
Medical experts at the University of Hong Kong said on Tuesday that the universal Covid-19 testing exercise set to take place in March should be postponed until daily cases drop to lower levels.

The researchers, led by HKU’s Dean of Medicine, Gabriel Leung, made the proposal as they predicted that daily cases would peak in the next few days.

The experts said their latest epidemiological projection indicated that 1.7 million people in the SAR have already been infected with the coronavirus during this wave of outbreak.

Their modelling suggested daily infections will peak at around 182,000 in the coming week or so, but said probably only about 35,000 cases will be reported to health authorities on any given day.

They also said the number of deaths could peak at about 156 a day in the middle of March, with more than 4,600 fatalities in total by the end of April.

But the team added that this would happen only under three conditions: the healthcare system remains overwhelmed, the elderly's vaccination rate stays low, and Hong Kong sees a shortage of antivirals.

The HKU researchers cautioned against carrying out universal testing too early.

"If compulsory universal testing were to be implemented pursuant to the 'dynamic zero-Covid policy', it should be deployed towards mid- to late-April when case numbers are anticipated to already be at very low levels in order to maximise its utility in achieving true elimination, or 'zero covid'," the research team stated.

"Doing so earlier, especially when case numbers will still be too high to properly and appropriately isolate and care for, paying particular attention to population mental and emotional well-being in Hong Kong’s unique context, would not be recommended."

They also warned that the spread of Covid will speed up if social-distancing rules were to be relaxed before April, due to reasons such as pandemic fatigue or other socio-economic considerations.