Top microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung says conducting universal Covid testing in Hong Kong at this stage “wouldn’t be very helpful”, as he joined other experts in suggesting that the exercise should only be conducted after the current outbreak peaks.
The University of Hong Kong professor on Thursday said the mainland has proven that population-wide testing works, but the best time for Hong Kong to do this has already passed.
“All these contact tracing measures, sewage sample testing and universal testing, the most effective time to do them is not when you have tens of thousands of cases, but when you have dozens of cases,” he explained.
“If our isolation facilities aren’t enough and you do it, the effect should be very low,” he told reporters.
“If you’re getting 50,000 cases daily and you go and conduct universal testing, I think it won’t be very helpful.”
He said the most effective way is to further strengthen social distancing to suppress transmissions, and test the population when the daily case numbers fall to a few hundred or lower.
Yuen was speaking after visiting a care home to check on efforts to vaccinate elderly people.
He said the best time to vaccinate the elderly has also passed. He said he saw many residents at the care home were coughing and suspects they may have already been infected.
Yuen proposed that the authorities help care home residents conduct rapid tests and then vaccinate those who are negative as soon as possible.