According to the Code of Practice for Registered Medical Laboratory Technologists of the Medical Laboratory Technologists Board, COVID-19 nucleic acid tests can only be carried out under the referral of a registered doctor or dentist.
The Government made the statement in response to media inquiries on charged COVID-19 tests offered by individual organisations or individuals in the community.
It added that relevant organisations and individuals must ensure the collection and handling of personal data complies with the requirements under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.
According to the Prevention & Control of Disease Regulation (Cap 599A), medical practitioners who have reason to suspect the existence of a case of scheduled infectious disease, including COVID-19, shall notify the Director of Health immediately.
Furthermore, laboratories which conduct COVID-19 tests are required to provide specimen tested positive and relevant personal information to the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch under the Department of Health for confirmation to ensure the infected individual could be isolated and receive appropriate treatment and that an epidemiological investigation could be conducted.
To encourage the public with symptoms to conduct virus tests as soon as possible, starting July 27, individuals who perceive themselves to have higher risk of exposure and experience mild discomfort can collect and return specimen bottles free-of-charge at the Hospital Authority’s 22 general out-patient clinics during scheduled slots.
The Government has also announced that the Universal Community Testing Programme (UCT Programme) would commence on September 1 to provide a one-off free testing service for the public.
Those who intend to receive COVID-19 tests should make use of the Hospital Authority’s services as far as possible and the UCT Programme.
The Government emphasised that no personal information, including specimens and test results, will be transported outside Hong Kong and the workflow will not involve the provision of any personal data to any organisations or people outside Hong Kong.