More Covid cases found through self-tests: CE

Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Saturday revealed that there has been a slight jump in the number of new Covid cases reported through self-testing, after the territory kicked off a three-day voluntary mass coronavirus screening exercise the day before.

Speaking at her daily Covid press briefing, Lam said the latest figure illustrated that conducting at-home tests does have its benefits, but she did not give the exact figure, only saying the increase is not exponential.

“We should be very happy with the figure, which is not very high as a result of a daily RAT test, which means the government will have plenty of capacity to take care of these newly infected cases,” she said, adding that uncovering more Covid infections through self-tests would mean a lower number of silent transmission chains.

She again urged people to test themselves at home with the rapid antigen test kits provided to them by the government, but admitted it’s impossible to make sure everyone takes part in the voluntary exercise.

“Even if it’s mandatory, just like the restriction-testing declaration that we are still doing every day in individual buildings, there are still non-compliance cases, ranging from one percent to three percent,” she said.

“So this is the Hong Kong society – people treasure a lot of their freedom to do one thing or to do another thing. But the government will never give up, we will continue to encourage, to persuade, and make it easy for people to participate.”

Lam said if the infection trend continues to come down, social-distancing rules will be relaxed as planned later in the month.

She also announced that she will no longer hold daily Covid press briefings when the number of new cases drops to three-digits.

Meanwhile, the CE said she’s disappointed and worried by the slow vaccination rate among children aged between three and 11, especially when schools are about to resume face-to-face classes after the Easter break.

So far only 62 percent of kids have received their first Covid jab, she said.

“Although some said that the Omicron variant is mild, it could hit the child very, very seriously without vaccination. So I hope that we would all encourage and promote and urge parents to get their kids vaccinated as early as possible,” she added.