Hong Kong is set to phase out the use of deep throat saliva tests as a recognised compulsory testing method to “enhance the effectiveness” of the city’s Covid-19 testing capabilities, the government has announced.

Saliva sample tests will instead be replaced by nasal and throat swabs taken by health professionals. People who must undergo compulsory testing will be required to visit one of the city’s 18 community testing centres or a recognised medical institution for a nasal and throat swab from Wednesday onwards.

A mobile Covid-19 test station. Photo: GovHK.

People serving mandatory quarantine, people who have been in close contact with a confirmed infection case, or new arrivals via the city’s Return2HK or the Come2HK scheme set to begin next week are required to undergo compulsory testing, which will be offered free at government facilities.

“The new arrangement will enhance the reliability of compulsory testing, making it more effective in the course of securing the protective barrier of Hong Kong,” a government spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The deep throat saliva specimen test will still be available for “certain circumstances,” the announcement said, including for medical patients suspected to have been infected and for people who cannot undergo the nasal and throat swab test due to a medical condition or their age.

Around 88 per cent of the booking slots at government testing centres for the coming week were available as of Tuesday evening.

Hong Kong’s infections have remained low for over two months. The city reported six new cases on Tuesday, all of which were imported.

Same-day tickets expanded

Separately, the government has also expanded its same-day ticket arrangements for vaccinations to five new groups.

Workers at aged care homes, medical organisations, schools, catering businesses and construction sites will be eligible for the tickets from Thursday onwards.

Photo: Pixabay.

First tickets will be handed out at vaccination centres from 7:45 a.m. onwards on a first-come, first-served basis. The arrangements will also continue to be available to people aged 60 and above and students aged 12 and above.

Around 3.6 million people in Hong Kong have been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday evening.

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Rhoda Kwan

Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.