The Hong Kong government will distribute a Covid-19 supply kit to each household starting early April, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Friday morning.
The city’s 3 million households will receive a pack of 20 rapid test kits, 20 KN95 masks, two boxes of Chinese medicine and pamphlets with medical information, Lam said during Friday’s near-daily Covid-19 briefing.
Lam urged citizens to test more frequently after receiving the package and to promptly report any positive results to health authorities.
She said the one-off measure would have a “broad screening effect of society,” helping the government to have a better grasp of the epidemic situation in Hong Kong and provide targeted support for higher-risk patients.
Acting Secretary for Home Affairs Jack Chan told reporters that the medical supplies in these kits were provided by mainland China, adding that the over-the-counter Chinese medicine included was “widely welcomed by citizens” and the KN95 masks had “extremely high protectiveness.”
Two boxes of Lianhua Qingwen, a popular traditional Chinese medicine promoted by the central government as an effective treatment against Covid-19, were displayed with the contents of the supply kits after the press briefing.
Lianhua Qingwen was distributed under different licenses in mainland China and Hong Kong. In late February, the Hong Kong government evoked its emergency powers to exempt the mainland version of the drug supplied by the central authorities from registration.
Earlier this month, an official from the Hospital Authority suggested that patients consult a traditional Chinese medical practitioner before taking such medicine, after a reported case of liver failure.
No prior registration
Lam said that citizens did not need to sign up to receive the kits.
“[We] will not make it inconvenient for citizens.” Lam said, adding that the distribution process “will not be strict” and she believed that volunteers would let larger families get extra kits.
The Home Affairs Bureau invited over 350 local groups and organisations to help pack and distribute kits. According to Chan, they “responded positively” and more than 10,000 people volunteered to assist as of Thursday.
Chan said packaging was set to begin from Wednesday with distribution to begin in early April. All kits were expected to be handed out within seven days across all districts in Hong Kong.
Volunteers and civil servants would go door-to-door in low-income communities and buildings without any owner’s corporation, resident groups or property management companies, Chan said.
For other cases, he said the Housing Department would handle the distribution in public housing complexes, the Heung Yee Kuk will take care of households in rural or remote areas and the respective owners’ organisations or property management firms will cover the remaining private properties.
Chan said that collection stations would also be set up in all districts in case some households did not receive a supply pack. He said staff would leave a written message if no one answered the door and the kits could be picked up after “simple registration.”
As of Thursday, the city has in total reported 1,101,224 Covid-19 cases and 6770 deaths.