The Hong Kong government has allowed Shenzhen-based laboratory BGI to resume operating Covid-19 mobile testing centres, after the firm implemented “improvement actions” following several blunders.

Authorities announced in a statement on Thursday that BGI can restart operations this month after it gave “positive responses” to recommendations from the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency (HKQAA).

BGI’s Covid-19 mobile specimen collection station. Photo: GovHK.

The agency conducted an audit in late April, after BGI produced dozens of false positive results in preliminary coronavirus tests. The private laboratory said at the time the samples were cross-contaminated. Its citywide services were suspended by the government.

According to the government, HKQAA conducted on-site checks and spoke to BGI staff about testing procedures. The auditor told the testing lab to ensure it has proper management, including putting in place standardised procedures in daily operations and incident management. BGI should also impose a “more stringent control” on the testing environment, as well as “corrective measures” for staff to detect, report and follow up on any incident.

The government – which had warned it might terminate its contract with BGI – said the company had taken immediate action such as replacing tools and kits to prevent potential contaminations following the incidents. It had also stepped up training, set new procedures for handling preliminary test samples, and arranged for more frequent audits.

BGI’s Covid-19 mobile specimen collection station. Photo: GovHK.

“In view of the positive responses of the private laboratory concerned and the follow-up and improvement actions carried out, the Government will allow the laboratory…to resume operating mobile specimen collection stations with effect from September this year when necessary,” the statement read.

It said the HKQAA’s recommendations were shared with eight other firms that run community testing centres, to “ensure proper delivery of COVID-19 testing services to the public.”

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.