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【China Daily】Lab's Daily Testing Capacity Surpasses 200k
Release time:2020-09-10

Source: CHINADAILY丨 2020-09-09 08:51丨By Chen Zimo


Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (2nd left) visits the Huo-Yan Laboratory at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Sports Center in Hong Kong, Aug 28, 2020. (LIU SIU WAI / XINHUA)

HONG KONG - A Chinese mainland expert working for Hong Kong’s citywide virus testing program revealed on Tuesday that the newly-built Huo-Yan Laboratory could process more than 200,000 samples a day, as he encouraged more residents to join the project, which aims to cut the invisible transmission chain. 

Guo Penghao, deputy head of a support team from Guangdong province, said that the testing capacity meets the needs of the Universal Community Testing Programme. On Tuesday, around 113,000 people took the free, voluntary test. 

As of Tuesday, the program had revealed at least 18 infections among the 1.2 million people tested. Guo said the participation rate is satisfactory, and identifying silent carriers can help block the invisible transmission chain in the community.

Guo, technologist-in-charge at the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, arrived in Hong Kong on Aug 2. He is among 427 mainland technicians helping the city increase its testing capacity to cope with a third wave of the outbreak.

Inside the temporary laboratory at the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Sports Centre on Hong Kong Island, the mainland team, together with about 200 Hong Kong technicians, work in three shifts to keep the lab running 24/7. 

According to Guo, many of the technicians had to work 12 hours a day to complete the tests before the last 117 support team members arrived on Thursday.

After more than a month of cooperation, Guo praised the Hong Kong government officials in charge of pandemic control as “excellent”, and said the authorities had made huge efforts to get the mass testing off the ground.

To contain the surge in infections in the city in July, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor sought assistance from the central government to enhance the virus testing capacity and set up community treatment facilities. 

Ahead of the launch of the mass testing on Sept 1, the government arranged 141 temporary testing centers across the city, and recruited more than 6,000 medical professionals and 4,000 current or retired civil servants to help with the program.

Hong Kong on Tuesday recorded six new cases, the lowest daily tally during its third wave of infections. Two of the three new local cases were detected by the testing program.

Lam urged residents to participate in the COVID-19 testing program, saying that residents are welcome to walk in without registration.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah on Tuesday also said residents’ participation in the testing is helpful for building up global confidence in Hong Kong’s pandemic control.

According to Yau, the government is in talks about opening a “travel bubble” with 11 countries once the virus is contained. These include Australia, France, Germany, Japan and Malaysia.

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