Early Testing and Detection
Early testing and detection is very important
As some people infected with COVID-19 only have mild symptoms, members of the public are advised to seek medical advice promptly when feeling unwell (even if having very mild symptoms only) and get tested under the instructions of a healthcare worker, so that appropriate diagnosis and management can be given at the earliest possible time.
Virus testing routes
The Government has announced that deep throat saliva (DTS) specimen would be replaced by combined nasal and throat swab samples collected by professionals as recognised compulsory testing method except for certain circumstances, with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of COVID-19 testing arrangements.
1a. Individuals subject to compulsory testing / in targeted groups
- They should pay attention to the relevant details and instructions; please refer to relevant announcements and the following webpages:
- Community Testing Centres (CTCs) in Hong Kong provide free-of-charge testing services for persons under compulsory testing and persons in certain targeted groups (refer to list of eligible persons)
- The Government may also according to needs set up mobile specimen collection stations to provide free-of-charge testing for persons under compulsory testing or in targeted groups.
- Or they can self-arrange testing provided by private laboratories (see the list of recognised local institutions / private testing laboratories)
- (note: for individual persons who are incapable of receiving professional swab sampling due to health reasons, if a medical certificate is issued by a registered medical practitioner to prove that he or she is unfit to undergo such testing, he or she may obtain a DTS specimen collection kit and return the specimen to one of the designated collection points; for children who cannot undergo professional swab sampling, please refer to the section on stool specimen)
1b. Persons arriving at Hong Kong and subject to compulsory testing
- Regarding the boarding, quarantine and testing arrangements for persons arriving at Hong Kong, refer to the following webpages and relevant instructions
- Persons who arrive in Hong Kong from 8 September 2021 onwards (including arrivals in Hong Kong who have completed compulsory quarantine or isolation in a designated quarantine hotel (DQH) or at home but still need to undergo compulsory testing, arrivals in Hong Kong under the Return2hk / Come2hk Schemes) must undergo testing with professional swab sampling at a Community Testing Centres (CTC) or a recognised local medical testing institution
- Compulsory testing for inbound travellers during home quarantine or isolation will continue to be conducted using DTS specimen. As per existing mechanism, the Government distributes sufficient DTS specimen collection packs to inbound travellers who are required to undergo home quarantine or isolation at boundary control points.
- (Note: under specific situations, the final compulsory test after the completion of quarantine by persons arriving at Hong Kong must be conducted in CTCs; please refer to relevant details and instructions)
2. Individuals who experiences symptoms of COVID-19 (even if having mild symptoms only)
- They should seek medical advice promptly when feeling unwell (even if having very mild symptoms only) and get tested under the instructions of a healthcare worker. They can proactively make a request to your doctor for testing when there is any suspicion
- Apart from the accident and emergency departments of public hospitals and GOPCs, you may also visit private clinics and hospitals. The Government provides free testing of COVID-19 for private doctors, whose compulsory testing will continue to be conducted using DTS specimen.
- They should not attend the mobile specimen collection stations or Community Testing Centres (CTCs)
3. Individuals who perceive themselves as having a higher risk of exposure and who do not experience any symptoms
- They can obtain a deep throat saliva (DTS) specimen collection pack from any of the designated distribution points, and return the specimen to one of the designated collection points
- Or they can undergo self-paid testing in Community Testing Centres (CTCs)
- Or they can self-arrange testing provided by private laboratories
4. Other individuals
- For general private use (such as for travelling abroad or working), they can undergo self-paid testing service in Community Testing Centres (CTCs)
- Or they can self-arrange testing provided by private laboratories
Distribution points of DTS specimen collection packs
- Distribution Points at General Out-patient Clinics (GOPCs) of Hospital Authority
- Distribution Points at Post Offices (except mobile post offices)
- Vending machines at MTR stations
- Ngau Tau Kok, Kwai Fong, North Point, Tiu Keng Leng, Wong Chuk Hang, Tai Wai, Tai Po Market, Siu Hong, Kowloon, Tsing Yi, Shau Kei Wan, Wan Chai, Sai Ying Pun, Ho Man Tin, Prince Edward, Kai Tak, Wu Kai Sha, Tsuen Wan West, Sheung Shui and Tung Chung stations
Collection points for submitting specimens
- Collection Points at General Out-patient Clinics (GOPCs) of Hospital Authority
- Collection points under the Department of Health
- Collection points in government premises in various districts
- Collection point for airport staff: Aisle G, Level 7, Departures Check-in Hall, Terminal 1, Hong Kong International Airport; 08:30 – 16:00, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (including public holidays)
In general, respiratory specimens such as deep throat saliva, combined throat and nasal swab and nasopharyngeal specimens are the specimen types of choice for diagnosing COVID-19 infection. Stool specimen may be used as an alternative for testing when collecting respiratory specimen is not feasible for children under 3 years old and those who are not suitable for respiratory specimen collection. Those who required stool specimen testing could obtain collection kits from the respective parties (including private doctors).
If a residential building is put under compulsory testing notice, stool specimen collection packs will be available for persons in need in relevant building or CTCs / mobile specimen collection stations. If a Child Care Centre / Kindergarten is put under compulsory testing notice, the Centre for Health Protection may also according to needs provide stool specimen collection packs. Any enquiries on compulsory testing arrangements (including how to obtain stool specimen collection packs) may be addressed to the hotline at 6275 6901.
How to self-collect and return the specimen
- Information Sheet on Deep Throat Saliva (DTS) Collection
- Information Sheet on Stool Specimen Collection (without collection spoon)
- Information Sheet on Stool Specimen Collection (with collection spoon)
- Stool Specimen Collection – Video
Returning the specimen
You may return the specimen by yourself (except persons who are under quarantine) or family members/relatives/friends to one of the designated collection clinics of the Hospital Authority, clinics of DH or government premises on the same day of specimen collection. You may also choose to use door-to-door specimen collection service at a charge.
For door-to-door specimen collection service, advanced booking is required (including online payment requirements). Due to service capacity and other reasons, service providers may have limited service on specified dates, you are advised to contact them as early as possible to avoid late submission. You may visit their websites by clicking the names of the companies below or contact them directly.
Door-to-door specimen collection service
- GOGOVAN (enquiry phone number: 5681 4989)
- Pickupp (enquiry email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Toby (enquiry phone number: 3703 3250)
Note: Charged door-to-door specimen collection service is not applicable to persons undergoing compulsory quarantine at the Desginated Quarantine Hotel. Please note that all post offices will NOT collect specimens. Please do NOT send specimens by postal mail.
If the test result is negative
CTCs and mobile specimen collection stations
For individuals undergoing self-paid testing service in CTCs, if the test result is negative, they will generally receive a test result notification from the institution within 24 hours.
For individuals undergoing free-of-charge testing service in CTCs or mobile specimen collection stations (for example those subject to compulsory testing or in targeted groups) will also receive SMS notification of their test results.
Self-collection of DTS specimens
Generally speaking, if you do not receive any notification within 3 days after submitting the specimen, it means the test is negative. If there are barcodes on the specimen bottle and request form, normally speaking, you will receive an SMS notification within 3 days.
If the test is referred by private medical practitioners, you may contact them for enquiries.
If the test result is positive
If a sample tests positive, the DH will arrange for admission to a public hospital for treatment as soon as possible. Quarantine will be arranged for close contacts while medical surveillance will be arranged for other contacts. In general, household members will stay in the same unit in a quarantine centre, depending on availability of units and size and composition of the family. Quarantine centres will provide the confinees with meals and basic daily personal necessities. You can bring own personal necessities, such as clothes and daily medications.
For details, you may refer to:
- Video - Stay Calm after Testing Positive
- Video - Guide to Mandatory Quarantine at Quarantine Centre
- Frequently Asked Questions for Close Contacts under Mandatory Quarantine at Quarantine Centres
- Quarantine and Isolation Arrangement Involving Children
- news.gov.hk - Serving Confinees Heart and Soul
- Points to Note regarding Self-monitoring Period for Close Contacts after Quarantine
- COVID-19 Electronic Vaccination and Testing Record System
- Health Advice for Persons with Prior COVID-19 Infection
Management of COVID-19
Many of the symptoms can be treated and supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.
The most important thing is to seek medical advice immediately and get testing done whenever symptomatic (even if having very mild symptoms).
About rapid antigen test for COVID-19
Rapid antigen tests can only serve as a reference and cannot replace the nucleic acid test which is at present the gold standard for diagnosis of COVID-19. Notwithstanding its limitations, rapid antigen tests may play a role in facilitating access to testing and earlier diagnosis in some people. Click here to read more about relevant FAQs.
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