Ho Pak-leung likens mass testing to 'wasting bullets'

Friday, August 21, 2020

An infectious disease expert has raised concerns over the effectiveness of the government’s citywide coronavirus testing scheme, which reports say is to start on September 1. 

Ho Pak-leung, the head of the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Infection, said the government should plug loopholes in its anti-epidemic work and allocate more resources to repeat testing in high-risk areas, such as eateries, supermarkets, elderly homes staff, and public hospital patients. 

The adviser to the government, said health officials in mainland identified and isolated patients quickly, and citizens thre did not undergo mass testing. 

Speaking on a radio program, Ho thinks arbitrary testing would be “wasting bullets,” citing the government’s previous attempt to screen 40,000 residents in the hotspot Tsz Wan Shan district, which only found a small number of positive patients. 

He expected a low number of confirmed patients even if several million volunteer. 

Another government infectious disease expert, David Hui Hsu-cheong, said he hopes at least five million people would take the test. 

The Chinese University professor urged people to sign up for the scheme, saying a low turnout would make health officials difficult to detect hidden carriers and break the transmission chains. 
Hui expected 4,000 to 5,000 medical personnel to sign up for the scheme, and he has personally volunteered as well.

Around 2,000 doctors and nurses have signed up to help at the moment. 

He said repeated testing is not necessary for most people but those who work in high-risk jobs that involve coming into contact with a lot of people such as elderly home staff or areas where there have been outbreaks. 

Hui also dismissed concerns from the public that the tests would collect the DNA information of participants and send to mainland. 

"I think individuals will only be identified by a bar code, your details will not be released to the laboratory staff," he said..