The Government today said all private laboratories providing testing services for the Government must take part in and pass the Centre for Health Protection’s (CHP) External Quality Assessment Programme (EQAP) for COVID-19 testing to ensure the technical level of testing services provided.


It made the statement in response to media enquiries on the test results of Sunrise Diagnostic Centre, a joint venture company of BGI in Hong Kong that provides COVID-19 testing services for the Government.


It noted that the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch under the CHP has been designated by the World Health Organization this year as a WHO COVID-19 Reference Laboratory and WHO COVID-19 external quality assessment programme provider.


The branch also provides a quality assessment programme for local laboratories.


According to Department of Health records, the temporary air-inflated laboratory at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Sports Centre operated with Sunrise Diagnostic Centre’s support passed the branch’s EQAP on August 18, and its sample pooling method’s accuracy was confirmed.


Additionally, BGI and Sunrise Diagnostic Centre took part in and passed the EQAP for their testing facilities in June and July. According to information provided by Sunrise Diagnostic Centre, BGI’s testing technology has also passed the external quality evaluation in the Mainland, Japan, the Netherlands and Malaysia etc.


At this stage, there is no evidence that the quality of testing services it provides to the Government falls short of the standard.


The Government noted that in accordance with the department’s existing mechanism, specimens tested with a positive COVID-19 result in all private laboratories in Hong Kong are considered preliminarily positive.


The specimens must be referred to the branch in accordance with established procedures for confirmatory tests.


After a positive result is confirmed by the branch, the CHP will classify it as a confirmed case.


It is not uncommon for the branch and the private laboratories to have discordant results using different platforms during the confirmatory process, and it has happened occasionally in the past.


The department may collect samples for the relevant cases again for further testing if necessary.