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Hong Kong's anti-epidemic measures adjusted: Voluntary isolation, vaccination and nucleic acid testing

Hong Kong's anti-epidemic measures adjusted: Voluntary isolation, vaccination and nucleic acid testing

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Admission applications to community isolation facilities and the free nucleic acid testing service will be ceased, while the COVID-19 vaccination programme will enter a new phase.

With the epidemic situation entering a new stage as well as a new mode adopted for management and handling of the epidemic, the HKSAR government has announced adjustments to community isolation facilities' admission application, COVID-19 vaccination programme, and the free nucleic acid testing service.

See below for the detailed updates.


Community isolation facilities admission application to cease from 22 February 2023

The transitional arrangements of voluntary admission to community isolation facilities (CIFs) for Hong Kong residents who test positive of COVID-19 will last until 28 February 2023. As confinees can stay at the CIF for up to seven days, the last date for admission application would be on 21 February 2023.

Hotlines for transfer arrangement set up by the Fire Services Department for recently-infected persons who need to stay at CIFs will also cease operations from 22 February 2023. 

The same arrangement is applicable to the holding centres managed by the Social Welfare Department for residents of residential care homes who test positive.


ALSO READ: No more quarantine for COVID infected patients in Hong Kong starting 30 January 2023


COVID-19 vaccination programme enters a new phase at the end of February

Since September last year, the Government has gradually consolidated the service network involving collaboration with private medical organisations, making good use of different venues to set up Community Vaccination Stations (CVSs) or Private Clinic COVID-19 Vaccination Stations (PCVSs) at locations with convenient transportation or high patronage, and providing vaccination service with more than one kind of vaccine at one vaccination venue.

In light of the latest epidemic developments and demand for vaccination, the Hong Kong Government will make further adjustments to the vaccination services and venues.

Starting from 27 February 2023, the COVID-19 Vaccination Stations in public hospitals (HCVSs) in Ruttonjee Hospital will be relocated to Tang Shiu Kin Hospital, where vaccination service with the BioNTech vaccine (ancestral strain vaccine/bivalent vaccine) or the Sinvoac vaccine will be provided.

The Community Vaccination Centres (CVC) located at the Osman Ramju Sadick Memorial Sports Centre, the MTR Tsing Yi Station, and Millennium City 5 will operate until noon on 28 February 2023 and be closed afterwards. The vaccination service of the paediatric and toddler formulations of the BioNTech vaccines at the Children Community Vaccination Centre (CCVC) of the Osman Ramju Sadick Memorial Sports Centre will be provided by Yan Chai Hospital COVID-19 Vaccination Station starting from 1 March 2023.

After the closure of the above three CVCs, the vaccination programme will take public and private medical facilities as the prime vaccination venues under the new mode of operation. Other vaccination venues will continue to provide vaccination service for Hong Kong residents, including:

  • Community Vaccination Stations (CVSs),
  • Private Clinic COVID-19 Vaccination Stations (PCVSs),
  • COVID-19 Vaccination Stations in public hospitals (HCVSs),
  • Designated general outpatient clinics of the Hospital Authority,
  • Elderly Health Centres,
  • Maternal and Child Health Centres and Student Health Service Centres of the Department of Health (DH), and
  • Some 1,000 private doctors providing COVID-19 vaccination service.

Meanwhile, starting from 1 March 2023, all CVSs, HCVSs and CCVCs will have the same opening hours from 10am to 6pm on their days of operation. Click here to see channels for COVID-19 vaccination starting from 1 March.


Adjustments to nucleic acid testing service starting 1 March 2023

As all compulsory nucleic acid testing requirements have been completely lifted, the Government will suitably reduce the number of community testing centres and community testing stations (CTC/CTSs), and cease the provision of the free nucleic acid testing service at CTC/CTSs starting from 1 March 2023.

However, some members of the public still need to undergo nucleic acid tests due to travel or personal needs, since certain countries and regions still require persons arriving from Hong Kong to undergo pre-departure tests. In this case, a total of 21 CTC/CTSs with higher usage will be retained to continue to provide self-paid nucleic acid testing service for citizens who need to obtain test results (such as certifications for work or travelling purposes). The remaining 64 existing CTC/CTSs will cease operation from the same day, with relevant venues to be reverted to their original uses in a progressive manner.

The opening hours of the 21 CTC/CTSs will be adjusted to 10am to 8pm every day while they will be closed from 1.30pm to 2pm/2.30pm for deep cleaning and disinfection. Unless requested otherwise by members of the public, throat swabs will be used for self-paid testing services. Citizens may also opt for other specimen collection methods including taking nasal swabs, nasopharyngeal swabs or combined nasal and throat swabs according to their own needs, such as for meeting the entry requirements of their travel destinations. 

Apart from those 21 CTC/CTSs, a rapid nucleic acid testing centre operating 24 hours a day has been set up at Hong Kong International Airport to enable travellers to undergo self-paid tests prior to departure and obtain results within two hours.

In addition, starting from 1 March 2023, the nucleic acid test requirement applicable to staff and visitors of public hospitals, residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs) and the residential care homes for persons with disabilities (RCHDs), as well as residents of residential care homes (RCHs) will be replaced by rapid antigen tests (RATs).

Visitors to public hospitals and RCHs are still required to undergo an RAT within 24 hours prior to their visit, and obtain a negative result before they can visit. Clinical staff of public hospitals, as well as staff and residents of RCHs, should also continue to undergo an RAT once a day.


Images / Shutterstock

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