‘Ensure enough isolation facilities for mass tests’

Medical experts on Wednesday called on authorities to make sure there are sufficient isolation facilities for those who test positive in the citywide Covid-19 screening exercise planned for next month.

Professor Lau Yu-lung, who chairs an advisory committee of the Centre for Health Protection, estimated that the number of asymptomatic infections uncovered by universal testing could range between 70,000 and 300,000.

He said the government should be able to accommodate all patients if there are around 70,000 of them, but if the infection figure exceeds that, it needs to map out a plan of action.

“If you find 100-odd, 200 or 300 thousand [infections], you’ll have to identify those who are most at risk and must be sent to isolation centre to break the transmission chain. This group of people should be given priority [for quarantine],” he told an RTHK radio programme.

Wilson Lam, vice president of the Society for Infectious Diseases, echoed Lau’s views, saying sports centres and exhibition centres may be used to house younger patients who don’t require much medical attention.

Speaking on the same programme, Lam said work-from-home arrangements should be adopted as much as possible to minimise the movement of people, in order for the citywide testing to be more effective.

Respiratory medicine expert David Hui, meanwhile, said it is crucial to deliver test results in a speedy manner to cut off transmission chains.

He told a Commercial Radio show that the virus would continue to spread if patients had to wait for their test results for days on end.