The voluntary mass testing of citizens for coronavirus in Hong Kong will begin on September 1, the city's top official said on Friday.
Tests will be free of charge for residents of the city, home to around 7.5 million people, which has been grappling in recent weeks with a third wave of Covid-19 infections, said Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Any Hong Kong resident with no symptoms, except children under the age of 6 and people with bad throat or nasal conditions, can join the testing program, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip said. The testing will last for seven days, after which the government will review the program and announce whether to extend it for another week.
“We believe that the testing can find out the hidden patients and give them treatment,” Lam said. “Hong Kong will be much better equipped to deal with the possible next virus wave now.”
Community testing centers will be set up across 18 city districts to collect samples, Nip explained. Residents will have to register online before getting tested.
Lam added that China’s central government helped in launching the mass testing program, providing extra laboratories and staff.
Hong Kong confirmed 27 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases identified in the city to 4,631.