‘Rapid tests need clear instructions, reporting’

Medical experts on Monday stressed the importance of issuing clear instructions and setting up straightforward reporting mechanisms as officials make increasing use of rapid at-home test kits in the fight against Covid-19.

The Home Affairs Bureau said on Saturday that it hadhanded 1.8 million rapid test kits over to the Hong Kong Community Anti-Coronavirus Link, while millions more kits are expected to be handed out as part of mass testing exercise later this month. Meanwhile long queues former to buy the kits at shops at the weekend.

Speaking on RTHK’s Covid Update programme on Monday, John Nicholls, a clinical professor of pathology at the University of Hong Kong, said that while the rapid tests worked well for younger people, the elderly often found them more difficult to use.

He also stressed the importance of setting up suitable mechanisms for reporting positive results, noting that many older people did not have access to the internet or use smartphones. At the moment, people must report positive results using a 24-hour government hotline, but officials say they’ll set up an online system.

Appearing on the same programme, Raymond So, a specialist in respiratory medicine, said positive rapid tests may not be fully reflected in the SAR’s official figures yet.

“A lot of people didn’t really report it after the self-testing,” he said. “These are the data from the lab: from the private lab, also from the government lab.

“So with a lot of the people that relied on the self-testing, those numbers are not in, within the system. So I would think that 26,000 is an underestimate for the new cases (on Sunday).”