Rat tests no longer double checked

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Health authorities will no longer double check all self-declared positive rapid test results and will instead check them on a random basis due to the large number of daily infections.

That came as Hong Kong yesterday reported four more deaths and 8,488 infections - 236 of which were imported - a drop from over 9,700 on Sunday.

The Centre for Health Protection's head of communicable disease branch, Chuang Shuk-kwan, said the drop did not mean there was a downward trend in infections.

"[The drop] may not reflect the actual trend because we did have day-to-day variations in numbers in the past," she said.

Chuang also said health authorities stopped conducting confirmation tests on all patients who tested positive in rapid tests from yesterday.

The government has been double checking the cases since May as the false positive rate was as high as 20 to 30 percent at that time, but that has now been reduced to less than 1 percent, she said.

Another reason is "because of the rapid increase in the number of tests we have to do, we have to be more efficient in the use of our laboratory testings," she said.

Chuang also said the proportion of the highly contagious BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants has increased to 52.8 percent.

The Hospital Authority's chief manager for quality and standards, Lau Ka-hin, said the four deaths involved patients aged 89 to 101.

He also said the condition of a 17-month-old boy in the pediatric intensive care unit at Princess Margaret Hospital deteriorated to critical yesterday. The boy was intubated and put on a ventilator in case he couldn't breathe by himself.

Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry Sun Dong tested preliminarily positive after work yesterday. Director of civil engineering and development Michael Fong Hok-shing also tested positive.

So far, at least seven senior government officials have been infected since August 21.

The community isolation facility at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal will commence service on Friday, offering 260 beds to elderly home residents who are classified as close contacts, the Social Welfare Department said yesterday.

Meanwhile, Futian and Luohu districts in Shenzhen are suspending certain bus and train services after the city reported 11 Covid-19 infections on Sunday.

This came as Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu will head to Guangzhou and Shenzhen on Wednesday and Thursday.