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Hong Kong's Fire Eye Laboratory geared up for large-scale COVID-19 testing

(Xinhua)    10:14, August 27, 2020

HONG KONG, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong's Fire Eye Laboratory at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Sports Center is ready to support large-scale COVID-19 testing under the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government's Universal Community Testing Program (UCT Program) to be launched on Sept. 1.

The Permanent Secretary for Food and Health (Health) of the HKSAR government Thomas Chan, who led the work group on testing of the HKSAR government, along with leader of the nucleic acid testing team from the Chinese mainland (Guangdong province), Yu Dewen, as well as members of the HKSAR government's work group and mainland's support team on Wednesday inspected the preparation of the temporary air-inflated laboratory and testing procedures.

After the inspection, the work group and the support team considered that the preparation of the laboratory is progressing well and expressed confidence in the smooth operation of the laboratory when the UCT Program is launched.

The laboratory, consisted of 16 air-inflated film chambers, is divided into three areas. The chambers are arranged in accordance with the testing process, and the route of sample flow is strictly regulated.

Chan said that the laboratory is ready following some two weeks of preparation to support large-scale testing. Mainland support team members including laboratory testing personnel recognized in mainland have familiarized themselves with the environment and stand ready for supporting the initiative.

The HKSAR government expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Central government for its support to enhance the testing capacity in Hong Kong, which had laid a solid foundation for the UCT Program, Chan added.

The laboratory had passed the HKSAR government's Department of Health's assessment under the external quality assessment program and complied with the requirements to provide COVID-19 tests for the HKSAR government. The laboratory also meets the requirements of a Biosafety Level 2 laboratory, and has implemented relevant infection control measures to ensure hygiene and appropriate waste management without emission of harmful gas.

Since early July, Hong Kong has seen another wave of COVID-19 outbreak with the sources of infection of many cases unknown, indicating a high risk of community transmission. As of midnight on Wednesday, the total number of infection in Hong Kong has reached 4,734.

The Central government set up a nucleic acid testing team to help Hong Kong to combat the epidemic at the request of the HKSAR government. As of Aug. 21, 60 members from the nucleic acid testing team from mainland (Guangdong province) have arrived in Hong Kong. The laboratory can help enhance Hong Kong's testing capacity to 300,000 to 500,000 per day.

Chan said the HKSAR government will endeavor to protect public health and ensure the UCT Program be implemented in a safe and orderly manner to provide voluntary free virus tests for all residents.

He appealed to the public to actively participate in the UCT Program to fight the epidemic together, and to contribute to the eradication and control of epidemic in Hong Kong, paving the way for gradual relaxation of social distancing measures and return to normal life. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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