Compulsory Testing for Certain Persons
Prevention and Control of Disease (Compulsory Testing for Certain Persons) Regulation
|Comes into operation on 15 November 2020|
Compulsory testing notice
For other most updated information, please also refer to daily press releases.
Testing routes for persons subject to compulsory testing:
(Note: Persons subject to compulsory testing must keep the SMS notification containing the result of the test for checking by a law enforcement officer when the officer requires the persons to provide information about their undergoing the specified test. The Government has updated the testing routes applicable to compulsory testing notices, which only include those where SMS confirming negative test results would be issued to persons who underwent testing afterwards. The routes below are for reference only. Persons subject to compulsory testing should carefully read the relevant announcements.)
- To obtain a deep throat saliva specimen collection pack from any of the designated post offices, vending machines set up at MTR stations or 47 designated general outpatient clinics (GOPCs) of the Hospital Authority (see the distribution points and time, and the specimen collection points and time at https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/early-testing.html);
- To self-arrange testing provided by private laboratories which are recognised by the Department of Health and can issue SMS notifications in respect of test results (see the list at https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/pdf/List_of_recognised_laboratories_RTPCR.pdf);
- To attend any Community Testing Centres (see the list at https://www.communitytest.gov.hk/en/);
- To visit any mobile specimen collection stations (see the list at https://www.communitytest.gov.hk/_doc/pdf/mts-list.pdf);
- To undergo testing at any GOPCs as instructed by a medical professional of the Hospital Authority; or
- To use a specimen bottle distributed to the relevant specified premises by the Centre for Health Protection (if available), and return the specimen bottle with the sample collected as per the relevant guidelines.
Any enquiries on compulsory testing arrangements may be addressed to the hotline at 6275 6901 which operates daily from 9am to 6pm. If persons who are subject to compulsory testing plan to conduct testing at any of the Community Testing Centres, they can check the centre's appointment status in advance. The hotlines of the Community Testing Centres are at www.communitytest.gov.hk/en/info/.
High risk groups or high exposure groups
The Government urges all individuals who are in doubt about their own health conditions, or individuals with infection risks (such as individuals who visited places with epidemic outbreaks or contacted confirmed cases) to undergo testing promptly for early identification of infected persons. The FHB will publish compulsory testing notices regarding particular groups when necessary taking into account the epidemic development and the testing participation rate.
Staff members of RCHEs, RCHDs and nursing homes (5th round)
- Persons who are employed by and will be on duty at RCHEs , RCHDs, nursing homes and day service units attached to the premises of residential care homes, or who will provide services to residents or users through hire-of-service contracts with residential care homes and the aforementioned units between 28 January to 6 February 2021 (including full-time, part-time and relief staff), to undergo polymerase chain reaction-based nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 between 18 to 27 January 2021 according to the requirements and procedures specified in the notice. The samples must be collected by using combined nasal and throat swabs and must not be taken by the person to be tested. The staff of the aforementioned institutions must choose to undergo the specified tests as below:
- To receive free specimen collection services in any of the Community Testing Centres (if any) (see the list at https://www.communitytest.gov.hk/en/), Temporary Testing Centres (see the list at https://www.swd.gov.hk/en/index/site_pubsvc/page_supportser/sub_ttc/), or mobile specimen collection stations (see the list at https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/early-testing.html);
- To have specimen collection by a healthcare professional or a trained personnel as arranged by institution operators for testing at private laboratories listed on "COVID-19 Thematic Website" (see the list at https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/pdf/List_of_recognised_laboratories_RTPCR.pdf); or
- To self-arrange testing provided by private laboratories listed on “COVID-19 Thematic Website” at their own expenses (see the list at https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/pdf/List_of_recognised_laboratories_RTPCR.pdf).
- Regarding the past 4th round of compulsory testing for staff, please refer to the relevant press releases.
Persons who intend to, at any time during the period from 25 December 2020 to 23 January 2021, drive a taxi are to undergo polymerase chain reaction-based nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 as below:
- Dial the registration hotline 1836 168 from December 7, 9am to 9pm daily, to make an appointment for one of the testing at the Dedicated Testing Centres for taxi drivers ; or
- Arrange testing by at own expenses in a private laboratory recognised by the Department of Health (DH) (see the list at www.coronavirus.gov.hk/pdf/List_of_recognised_laboratories_RTPCR.pdf); or
- Arrange testing by at own expenses in any of the Community Testing Centres set up by the Government (see the list at www.communitytest.gov.hk/en/), and undergo testing as instructed by the relevant staff.
- For persons subject to compulsory quarantine who arrived at Hong Kong during the period of December 2 to December 23, 2020 and have stayed in the UK, as well as persons subject to compulsory quarantine who arrived at Hong Kong during the period of December 2 to December 24, 2020 and have stayed in the remaining places outside China: Apart from the requirement to undergo testing at the community testing centres or the designated quarantine hotels on the 19th or 20th day following their arrival at Hong Kong, the relevant persons have to stay at their place of residence, private premises or the place of quarantine specified on the quarantine order until the test result is available. If the persons who arrive at Hong Kong from the UK and are subject to testing need to take public transport for the purpose of undergoing testing or for going to their place of stay, the persons can only travel direct by taking taxis and cannot disembark on the way.
Persons subject to compulsory testing must register to undergo testing by presenting the identity document stated on the Quarantine Order and, as far as practicable, the Quarantine Order. Persons subject to compulsory testing must also keep the SMS (mobile phone text message) notification containing the result of the test, and provide the relevant SMS notification for checking by a law enforcement officer when the officer requires the persons to provide information about their undergoing the test. For details, refer to this press release.
Direction issued by a registered medical practitioner
The Government published in the Gazette the specifications under Cap. 599J, which until 22 January 2021, continue to empower a registered medical practitioner to require, by a compulsory testing direction, any person whom the medical practitioner attends to in the course of professional practice and clinically suspects to have contracted COVID-19 to undergo a COVID-19 nucleic acid test. Persons who receive a compulsory testing direction should undergo a test within two days after the issue date of the written direction (the testing deadline).
Persons who are subject to such testing may choose to undergo a test as below:
- To use the specimen bottle provided by the registered medical practitioner who issued the compulsory testing direction to collect a deep throat saliva specimen and submit the specimen bottle to designated specimen collection points by the testing deadline (see the specimen collection points and time at www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/early-testing.html). Having reported the case to the DH, the registered medical practitioner who issued the direction will be notified of the test result; or
- To self-arrange testing provided by private laboratories recognised by the DH (see the list at https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/pdf/List_of_recognised_laboratories_RTPCR.pdf) by the testing deadline and submit the test result to the medical practitioner who issued the compulsory testing direction or his clinic staff by electronic mail, fax, or by hardcopy within four days after the testing deadline.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why do we need to put in place these regulations?
Strengthening COVID-19 testing is an integral part of the epidemic control strategy, which can help to slow down the transmission of the virus by early identification, early isolation and early treatment.
- What is the legal basis for the Regulation (Cap. 599J)?
To further strengthen testing, the Government has made the Prevention and Control of Disease (Compulsory Testing for Certain Persons) Regulation (Cap. 599J). The Regulation provides a legal framework for the Government to specify by compulsory testing notice published in the Gazette, a category or description of persons who are required to undergo a test for COVID-19, taking into account the epidemic development. Examples include persons who live or work in specified premises with outbreak of cases, persons of a particular occupation, or persons who are close to completion of the compulsory 14-day quarantine upon their arrival at Hong Kong. The Secretary for Food and Health (SFH) will publish the relevant notices when necessary taking into account the epidemic development and the testing participation rate. In addition, the Regulation allows SFH to specify by notice published in the Gazette a period of not more than 14 days, during which a specified medical practitioner can require a person whom he clinically suspects has contracted COVID-19 to undergo testing by written direction issued to that person.
Moreover, Cap. 599J provides the legal framework for the Government to, according to the needs of infection control, restrict movement of persons subject to compulsory testing, or seal off premises with epidemic outbreaks until all persons on the premises have undergone testing and the test results are ascertained. (See also FAQ 3 below.)
- What is a "restriction-testing declaration"?
Cap. 599J provides the legal framework for the Secretary for Food and Health to make a "restriction-testing declaration" (declaration) when a considerable number of persons who have recently contracted COVID-19 have recently been present on the premises, or a person who has recently contracted the disease and who has recently been present on the premises is likely to have been in close proximity to a considerable number of persons on the premises, and accordingly persons who are present on the premises are being exposed to a significant risk of contracting the disease, and it is necessary to conduct testing for persons on the premises promptly and extensively in order to prevent, protect against, delay and control the transmission of the disease. After the declaration is made, relevant persons are required to stay in the premises until all such persons have undergone testing and the test results are ascertained. If necessary, such as when there is suspicion on environmental contamination onsite which increases the infection risks of persons therein, the Government may transfer persons on the premises to a designated place to wait for the test result having regard to the situation, or send them to quarantine centres for compulsory quarantine under the existing mechanism.
- What are the legal consequences for contravening the aforementioned regulations?
The Government has increased the penalties for breaching requirements under the relevant Regulations in order to create the necessary deterrence effect. The relevant legislative amendments took effect from 11 December 2020. Any person who fails to comply with the compulsory testing notice or compulsory testing direction commits an offence and the maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine at level 3 ($10,000). The fixed penalty for discharging liability for the offence is $5,000. The person would also be issued with a compulsory testing order requiring him/her to undergo testing within a specified timeframe. Failure to comply with the order is an offence and the offender would be liable to a fine at level 4 ($25,000) and to imprisonment for six months.
Any person who breaches a restriction-testing declaration or a direction to be transferred to a designated place commits an offence and may be liable to a maximum fine at level 4 ($25,000) and imprisonment for six months.
- Are there other advice and more information?
To reduce transmission risk, persons who underwent testing are to stay at home and avoid going out when waiting for test results.
Any enquiries on compulsory testing arrangements may be addressed to the hotline at 6275 6901 which operates daily from 9am to 6pm.
Useful links and resources
- What You Must Know for COVID-19: Early Testing and Detection
- Prevention and Control of Disease (Compulsory Testing for Certain Persons) Regulation (Cap. 599J)