Compulsory Testing for Certain Persons
In view of the current risk assessment and testing resources of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), the Government has updated the priorities and channels of testing services starting from February 25, including: distributing rapid test kits base on the risk levels of districts instead of issuing compulsory testing notices (CTN), targeting more higher-risk buildings to conduct restriction-testing declaration (RTD) operations, and streamlining follow-up procedures for confirming positive results in nucleic acid tests and rapid antigen tests (RAT). For details, please refer to this press release.
There may be a time lag for updating the dashboard. For most updated information, please also refer to COVID-19 - Lists of Specified Premises of Compulsory Testing Notices, press release related to compulsory testing notice and press releases today.
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.
The compulsory testing requirement applies to those who have completed a COVID-19 vaccination course as well. However, persons who have been tested positive in the past three months, including positive cases either by nucleic acid tests recorded by the Department of Health (DH) or by rapid antigen test (RAT) that have been self-declared to the DH, are no longer subject to further compulsory testing. In addition, if a person is required to undergo quarantine pursuant to section 22 of the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation (Cap 599A), that person is not required to comply with the requirements set out in that Notice during the quarantine period; and if a person is receiving treatment or under isolation in a hospital or an isolation facility on the required testing date(s), he/she would be taken to have complied with the requirements set out in the compulsory testing notice if he/she informs a medical professional of the applicable testing requirements and follows the testing arrangement as instructed by the hospital or isolation facility concerned during his/her hospitalisation or isolation.
For details, please refer to the relevant notices.
For enquiry, please call:
Centre for Health Protection Hotline: 183 0111 (9 am to 8 pm)
"StayHomeSafe" Hotline and Home quarantine hotline for returnees from outside Hong Kong: 1833 019 (7 am to 11pm)
Compulsory Testing Hotline: 6275 6901 (9 am to 6 pm)
HKSAR Government COVID-19 WhatsApp Helpline: WhatsApp9617 1823
(Note: Persons subject to compulsory testing must keep the SMS notification containing the result of the test and the relevant medical certificate (if applicable) for checking by a law enforcement officer when the officer requires the persons to provide information about their undergoing the specified test. The routes below are for reference only. Persons subject to compulsory testing should carefully read the relevant announcements.)
(a) For tests which require using a sample taken through combined nasal and throat swabs:
- To visit any of the mobile specimen collection stations (see the list and target groups (if applicable) at www.communitytest.gov.hk/en/station/) for testing;
- To attend any of the community testing centres (see the list at www.communitytest.gov.hk/en);
- To self-arrange testing provided by private laboratories which are recognised by the DH and can issue SMS notifications in respect of test results (see the list at www.coronavirus.gov.hk/pdf/List_of_recognised_laboratories_RTPCR.pdf), and the relevant sample must be taken through combined nasal and throat swabs; or
- To use a specimen bottle distributed to the relevant specified premises by the CHP (if applicable), and return the specimen bottle with the stool sample collected as per relevant guidelines.
(b) For persons holding a medical certificate issued by a registered medical practitioner, proving that he/she is unfit to undergo testing using a sample taken through combined nasal and throat swabs because of health reasons, then he/she may choose to undergo testing via the following routes by providing a deep throat saliva sample:
- To obtain a deep throat saliva specimen collection pack from post offices, vending machines set up at MTR stations or designated general out-patient clinics (GOPCs) of the Hospital Authority and return the specimen to one of the designated specimen collection points (see the distribution points and times, and the specimen collection points and times, at www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/early-testing.html#DTS);
- To undergo testing at any of the GOPCs of the Hospital Authority as instructed by a medical professional of the Hospital Authority; or
- To self-arrange testing provided by private laboratories which are recognised by the DH and can issue SMS notifications in respect of test results.
Testing received at the Accident and Emergency Departments of the Hospital Authority or during hospital stays, or testing provided by private laboratories which cannot issue SMS notifications in respect of test results, does not comply with the requirements of the aforementioned compulsory testing notice.
If persons who are subject to compulsory testing have symptoms, they should seek medical attention immediately and undergo testing as instructed by a medical professional. They should not attend the mobile specimen collection stations or Community Testing Centres. Furthermore, persons who are subject to testing should, as far as reasonably practicable, take appropriate personal disease prevention measures including wearing a mask and maintaining hand hygiene; and unless for the purpose of undergoing the specified test, stay at their place of residence or private premises and avoid going to their workplace until the test result is ascertained as far as possible.
Community testing centres (CTCs) provide testing services for the public, including free service for persons subject to compulsory testing. Booking and walk-in services are available. Members of the public only need to provide simple personal information on the 24-hour booking system (www.communitytest.gov.hk/en). The system shows the booking status of the centres for the coming two weeks to facilitate the public's planning and selection of a suitable testing centre and a time slot for testing.
Any enquiries on compulsory testing arrangements may be addressed to the hotline at 6275 6901 which operates daily from 9am to 6pm.
High risk groups or high exposure groups
As for practitioners in high-risk and high-exposure groups (including staff of quarantine centres / hotels / facilities and designated transport, airport staff (Orange Zone and Green Zone), staff of container terminals and shipping services, cold store practitioners, etc.), the compulsory testing frequency is changed to once in every seven days. The Government will also distribute rapid test kits to relevant practitioners through the trades, such that they may perform more frequent tests in a testing cycle. For details, please refer to this press release.
See https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/targeted-testing.html for other targeted groups requiring regular testing.
Subject to the epidemic development and the need for infection control, the Government will delineate restricted areas and make a "restriction-testing declaration". Persons within the areas are required to stay in their premises and undergo compulsory testing in accordance with the arrangement by the Government, and can only leave after the relevant test results are mostly ascertained. All premises within the restricted areas, whether or not confirmed cases were found therein, would be included in the compulsory testing notice. Any person who had been present in the restricted area for more than two hours in the past 7 days (including but not limited to visitors, residents and workers) have to also undergo compulsory testing.
Direction issued by a registered medical practitioner
The Government published in the Gazette the specifications under Cap. 599J, which 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.
Persons arriving Hong Kong
According to the epidemic development and needs, the Government will arrange rounds of virus testing for inbound travellers. For details, please refer to relevant instructions and this webpage.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why do we need to put in place this regulation?
Strengthening testing for COVID-19 is an integral part of the epidemic control strategy, which helps to prevent 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, persons who arrive at Hong Kong, etc. The Secretary for Health will publish the relevant notices when necessary taking into account the epidemic development.
In addition, the Regulation allows Secretary for Health to specify by notice published in the Gazette a period of not more than 14 days, during which a specified medical practitioner is empowered to require a person clinically suspected to have contracted COVID-19 to undergo testing by compulsory testing 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 who are present in a restricted area until all persons on the premises have undergone testing and the test results are mostly ascertained. (See also FAQ 4 below.)
- What are the legal consequences for persons who fail to comply with a compulsory testing notice or compulsory testing direction?
The Government has increased the penalties for breaching requirements under the relevant Regulation in order to create the necessary deterrence effect. 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 4 ($25,000) and imprisonment for 6 months. The fixed penalty for discharging liability for the offence is $10,000. The person may 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 5 ($50,000) and imprisonment for six months.
- What is a "restriction-testing declaration"?
Cap. 599J provides the legal framework for the Secretary for 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, persons who are present within a restricted area will be required to stay in the premises until all such persons have undergone testing and the test results are ascertained. If necessary, such as when it is suspected that 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 breaching a restriction-testing declaration ?
Any person who fails to comply with testing requirements under a restriction-testing declaration commits an offence and may be liable to a maximum fine at level 5 ($50,000) and imprisonment for six months.
- Is there any special arrangement for inclement weather during the period for undergoing compulsory testing?
If Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 3 or above is hoisted, or the Red or Black Rainstorm Warning Signal or the post-super typhoon "extreme conditions" announcement by the Government is in force at any time during the period for undergoing the compulsory testing in respect of specified premises, the period for undergoing the compulsory testing will be extended for one day.
- What specimen samples would be taken as recognised compulsory testing method by the Government?
Persons subject to compulsory testing in accordance with a compulsory testing notice must go to any of the ad-hoc mobile specimen collection stations, community testing centres (CTCs) / community testing stations (CTSs) or recognised local medical testing institutions to undergo professional swab sampling in fulfilling the requirements for compulsory testing. Young children may continue to undergo the test using a stool specimen.
- Where can the public obtain more information?
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)