Compulsory Testing for Certain Persons
Prevention and Control of Disease (Compulsory Testing for Certain Persons) Regulation
|Comes into operation on 15 November 2020|
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 14 days (including but not limited to visitors, residents and workers) have to also undergo compulsory testing.
Compulsory testing notice
Household members of close contacts of confirmed cases
Currently, the Centre for Health Protection requires asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed cases to undergo compulsory quarantine in quarantine centres. To strengthen tracing ability, the Government requires the household members of close contacts to undergo compulsory testing.
Any person who had lived with a person who is placed under quarantine pursuant to section 22 of the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation (Cap. 599A) (person under quarantine) in the same residential unit on the date of commencement of quarantine or during the 14 days before that day, and who becomes aware of the quarantine of the person under quarantine when the relevant quarantine has not yet been completed, have to undergo testing within two days of he/she becoming aware of the person under quarantine has been placed under quarantine and report to the Government the result of the test by phone (at 6275 6901), fax (at 2530 5872) or email ([email protected]) within three days of undergoing the test.
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 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 obtain a deep throat saliva specimen collection pack from any of the 121 post offices, vending machines set up at 20 MTR stations or 47 designated general outpatient 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);
- To undergo testing at any of the GOPCs of the Hospital Authority as instructed by a medical professional of the Hospital Authority;
- To self-arrange testing provided by private laboratories which are recognised by the Department of Health (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); or
- To use a specimen bottle distributed to the relevant specified premises by the Centre for Health Protection (if applicable), and return the specimen bottle with the sample collected as per 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 (13th 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 during the period from April 30 to May 13, 2021, or who will provide services to residents or users through hire-of-service contracts with residential care homes and the aforementioned units during that period (including full-time, part-time and relief staff) are required to undergo polymerase chain reaction-based nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 during the period from April 16 to April 29, 2021. 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.communitytest.gov.hk/en/station/);
- To undergo the Specified Test as arranged by institution operators at a laboratory listed on the "COVID-19 Thematic Website" (see the list at https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/pdf/List_of_recognised_laboratories_RTPCR.pdf);
- To obtain a specimen bottle from one of the 121 post offices, 47 general out-patient clinics of the Hospital Authority or vending machines set up at 20 MTR stations, collect a deep throat saliva sample in the specimen bottle as per the guidelines provided together with the specimen bottle, and return the specimen bottle with the sample (see the specimen bottles distribution and specimen collection locations and times at www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/early-testing.html);
- Undergo the Specified Test at general out-patient clinics of the Hospital Authority as instructed by a medical professional of the Hospital Authority; 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 previous round of compulsory testing for staff, please refer to the relevant press releases.
Hong Kong International Airport staff
Persons employed during the period from February 4 to 25, 2021, by the Government, any statutory body, airport business partners or their contractors/subcontractors, or service providers engaged by the aforementioned entities under hire-of-service contracts, who have the Airport Area as mentioned in the Airport Authority Ordinance (Cap. 483) as their usual place of work or service, and who intend to continue to have the Airport Area as their usual place of work or service during the period of March 1 to 31, 2021, should undergo a polymerase chain reaction-based nucleic acid test for COVID-19 during the period from February 4 to 25, 2021.
The relevant persons shall have to visit any of the Dedicated Testing Centres set up by the AAHK in the Airport Area (information on the locations, opening dates and opening hours are set out in www.hongkongairport.com/iwov-resources/image/home/COVID19/Airport_Dedicated_Testing_Centres.jpg) or any of the Community Testing Centres set up by the Government (information on the locations, opening hours and online registration is at www.communitytest.gov.hk/en/) and receive free testing services by providing a specimen collected by combined nasal and throat swabs. Tests for the staff of the Hospital Authority (HA) working in the Airport Area shall be carried out at any of the medical facilities under the HA. In addition, the relevant persons may opt for self-arranged testing provided by a laboratory recognised by the Department of Health at their own expense (see the list at www.coronavirus.gov.hk/pdf/List_of_recognised_laboratories_RTPCR.pdf) and receive the test as instructed by the relevant staff of the laboratory.
After taking the test, the relevant persons shall obtain and keep the test report or the relevant SMS or email notification containing the result of the test for checking by the enforcement officers during the period from March 1 to 31, 2021. The Government and the AAHK will, upon completion of the one-off compulsory testing scheme, roll out for certain groups of airport staff a voluntary regular testing scheme in March. Details of the testing scheme will be communicated to the relevant staff later. 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 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
Persons arriving from places in China at different boundary control points
According to the compulsory testing notice, any person aged six or above who arrives at Hong Kong on or after April 1, 2021, via any land boundary control point and is placed under quarantine under the Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong Regulation (Cap. 599C), as well as any person arriving at Hong Kong under the Return2hk Scheme and are hence exempted from compulsory quarantine, must undergo testing on the 2nd and 12th day following the person's arrival at Hong Kong. At the same time, any person who arrives at Hong Kong via the HKIA and is placed under quarantine pursuant to Cap. 599C must also undergo testing on the 12th day following the person's arrival at Hong Kong in addition to the "test-and-hold" arrangement on the day of arrival. The Government will amend the relevant exemption conditions imposed on exempted persons by including the post-arrival test requirement as one of the exemption conditions.
The 2nd and 12th day following a person's arrival at Hong Kong are counted with the day of arrival as the 1st day. For example, for a person who arrived at Hong Kong on April 1, 2021, he/she should undergo the 2nd day test on April 2, 2021 and the 12th day test on April 12, 2021.
Port Health staff will distribute specimen collection bottles to the persons subject to the compulsory testing requirements mentioned above when they arrive at Hong Kong. The relevant persons subject to compulsory testing should collect deep throat saliva samples using the specimen bottles as per the guidelines on the 2nd and/or 12th day following their arrival in Hong Kong, and return the specimen collection bottles by the same day. If necessary, the relevant persons subject to compulsory testing may also choose to obtain the specimen collection bottles from one of the 121 post offices, 47 general out-patient clinics of the Hospital Authority or vending machines set up at 20 MTR stations via family or friends. For persons not subject to compulsory quarantine (i.e. persons arriving at Hong Kong under the Return2hk Scheme or persons exempted from compulsory quarantine), they may alternatively undergo the specified tests by attending Community Testing Centres on the 2nd and 12th day of their arrival at Hong Kong. The persons subject to testing must keep the SMS notifications containing results of the test for checking when a prescribed officer requires the persons to provide information about their undergoing the specified test.
Any enquiries on compulsory testing arrangements may be addressed to the hotline at 6275 6901 which operates from 9am to 6pm.
Persons arriving at Hong Kong airport who have stayed in places outside China
Such persons are required to undergo testing on the day of their arrival at the airport, and on the 12th day and 19th day following their arrival at Hong Kong. For more details on compulsory quarantine in designated quarantine hotels, please refer to this webpage.
To enhance the testing of persons returning to Hong Kong from overseas places, the Government will issue a compulsory testing notice for persons who returned to Hong Kong from extremely high-risk places specified under Cap. 599H (that is the current Group A specified places). After completing the compulsory quarantine for 21 days as well as the testing on the 12th and 19th day during quarantine, these persons returning to Hong Kong will also need to self-monitor further for another seven days, and be subject to nucleic acid testing on the 26th day of their return to Hong Kong.
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)