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

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, etc.) or voluntary testing, they can undergo self-paid testing service in Community Testing Centres (CTCs) without the need for referral by medical practitioners
  • Or they can self-arrange testing provided by private laboratories

Distribution points of DTS specimen collection packs

Stool bottle collection points

Collection points for submitting specimens

Additional notes

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

Specimen collection

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 specimen collection points 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: hk@pickupp.io)
  • 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:

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 the Limitations and precautions of Rapid Antigen Test for Coronavirus Disease 2019 and relevant FAQs.

Useful links

COVID-19 Testing Service for Targeted Groups

Compulsory Testing for Certain Persons

Primary Care Directory

TV Announcement