Covid-19 testing centres in Hong Kong have been introducing ticketed queues to try and manage the flow of people after hours-long queues have formed across the city amid the fifth wave of coronavirus infections. However, staff at one centre have reported counterfeit tickets and people selling tickets.

A new testing centre with a ticketed queueing system opened at Cheung Sha Wan Sports Centre on Wednesday. Shuen Wing-ki, chief operating officer at Carelink Bioscience Limited, which runs the centre, told RTHK on Thursday that “there are people selling the tickets,” adding that staff also reported seeing fake tickets.

Cheung Sha Wan Sports Centre
Cheung Sha Wan Sports Centre. File photo: Hoo Mann Yeee, via Wikicommons.

Shuen said that each person was only allowed one ticket, and that new measures were already in place to ensure the queueing system ran smoothly. “If you are helping elderly family members to take [a ticket], you can present their HKID card copy and Senior Citizen Card, and then we will allow you to take one more ticket,” she said.

tai wai covid testing line with stools
Residents, some carrying stools, wait in line for a Covid-19 test in Tai Wai. Photo: Hillary Leung/HKFP

Shuen said the same arrangement also applied to disabled family members.

Shuen said she hoped there could be volunteers stationed at testing sites to help older citizens and stop people from selling tickets.

‘Why not come earlier?’

As the fifth wave of Covid-19, led by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, has infected thousands in recent days, hours-long queues have formed outside testing centres across the city, with some even exceeding testing centres’ daily capacity.

In one video posted online, police officers were seen arguing with residents who had spent hours waiting for tests at Tai Wai’s Sun Chui Estate.

After being told by a representative of the testing service provider that they were unable to finish testing those in line and had to close the station according to schedule at 8 p.m., some residents said they had waited for three hours and were unhappy with the member of staff’s offer to register their details and prioritise them the next day.

Sun Chui Estate quarrel video screenshot
Photo: Video screenshot.

One person can be seen approaching the representative and asking whether they were in charge, before being stopped by police and asked to show his identity card.

Officers said they were “upholding order” and told the man, “don’t use this as an excuse to make a scene.”

The speech by the testing centre staff member then was interrupted at least twice by quarrels between officers and residents. An officer was recorded asking the queue: “why didn’t you come earlier?”

Residents erupted in anger at the question, with some saying they had been waiting since 5 p.m. and telling the police, “if you don’t know what’s going on, then get out of the way.”

With regard to the long waits for tests and quarantine, Chief Executive Carrie Lam issued a rare apology to Hong Kong citizens on Wednesday night.

Hong Kong has recorded 18,794 cases and 216 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.