Huge demand as anti-epidemic taxis start running

A special taxi fleet tasked with transporting Covid patients with mild symptoms to and from designated public clinics saw huge demand on its first day of operation on Friday.

Patients with appointments at one of seven Hospital Authority clinics can now book a taxi on a designated website.

After verifying their mobile phone numbers, patients can reserve the free service by entering their personal information, address, the clinic they’re heading to, and the pick-up date and time.

Patients can also call a booking hotline.

The booking website received over 300 reservations within 20 minutes of it going live at 7am, according to Sonia Cheng from the Taxi Dealers and Owners Association.

On a radio programme, she said around 300 taxi drivers were providing the service on Friday, and they wouldn’t carry any other passengers.

Drivers have to wear protective gear and be tested before they start work every day, Cheng said, and some have made arrangements for others in their household to live elsewhere.

A driver who joined the fleet said he had been given protective equipment and told not to touch or chat with the patients.

He said he was not too worried about the infection risks.

“The infection risk will be higher, but I think as long as I take precautionary measures, the protection will be higher. I am quite lucky because I have the support from my wife,” the man surnamed Ng said.

The driver said the HK$3,000 daily allowance provided by the government is not that attractive, but he still wanted to join the special fleet.

“Our income during the pandemic has been too low, scarily low. The government is in urgent need of a taxi fleet, and we think by joining, we can help people and also have work,” he said.