‘Rapid tests may miss 15 percent of infections in HK’

An infectious diseases expert on Friday said that relying on people to take rapid Covid tests at home may mean that as many as 15 percent of infections are missed.

Joseph Tsang from the Medical Association told an RTHK programme that rapid antigen tests are not sensitive enough to pick up early stage infections.

The government has said it is planning to ask residents to take a self test after it distributes anti-epidemic kits to all households.

But Tsang said he’s worried that some people may decide against reporting their results, especially those who are fully vaccinated.

“They don’t see the incentive to report the results as it wouldn’t affect their vaccine pass. Of course we don’t encourage that, but it’s clear that you won’t be able to find out how many people are infected with Covid in Hong Kong through rapid tests,” he said.

“But no doubt, if everyone follows the government instructions, you will be able to find the group of people who are most infectious.”

But another expert, Ho Pak-leung from the University of Hong Kong, told Commercial Radio that people need not worry about getting inaccurate results, as he believes they are likely to do multiple tests.

He said rapid tests are reliable as figures from the Centre for Health Protection suggest that only around 1.4 percent produce false-positive results.

Ho said he expects less than five percent of people using the rapid tests to get a positive result, similar to the percentage currently found in lockdown testing.

He said the government should consider further adjusting social distancing measures, depending on the result of the rapid test exercise.