(To watch the full media briefing with sign language interpretation, click here.)

 

The Universal Community Testing Programme has raised Hong Kong people’s awareness in combatting COVID-19 and injected positive spirit into society, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said today.

 

Mrs Lam made the statement ahead of the Executive Council meeting this morning, noting that 1.783 million people participated in the programme that concluded on September 14.

 

She said the programme has brought three valuable things to Hong Kong. The first thing is it has raised people’s awareness in combatting the epidemic, which is unlikely to go away until an effective vaccine is available and supplied to the community.

 

“It is very important for ordinary citizens to keep on reminding themselves that it is very important to wear a mask, very important to keep social distance, to avoid crowds and so on. So, for every one of the 1.78 million Hong Kong residents, now I feel they will have a better awareness.”

 

When there is another outbreak, the people affected will not have the same fear and anxiety if the Government needs to conduct COVID-19 tests, she said.

 

“The second valuable thing that has come out of it is they have personally gone through this COVID-19 testing. Because if you remember, when we started to launch this programme, there were lots of smears bad-mouthing about the COVID-19 test, about the possible infections, and this and that, so people could have fear and anxiety about subjecting themselves to a COVID-19 test.

 

“Now, they have gone through it themselves, together with their family members and the great majority of the reactions that I have heard is: it is very simple, it is very safe, it doesn’t hurt me at all.

 

“So, next time when there is going to be another outbreak, whether in an elderly home, whether in a public housing estate, and the public health authorities have to conduct a more compulsory type of COVID-19 testing, at least the people affected will not have that same fear and anxiety. This is a very valuable experience for such a large number of people.”

 

Lastly, Mrs Lam said the programme has injected positive spirit into society.

 

“Hong Kong is a very polarised society unfortunately because of events that have taken place in the last year or so. But in the last two weeks, we have seen people coming together. Six thousand medical, nursing and allied health and first-aid staff have come together to join hands at the testing centres. They may not know each other previously but they joined hands to conduct this programme for one single purpose, that is to protect the health of the Hong Kong people.

 

“This medical, nursing and first-aid network is extremely important for us to go through the next stage of this anti-epidemic work. I hope the whole exercise has also injected a certain degree of positive spirit which has been so lacking in Hong Kong society for a while.”

 

She added that the Government will evaluate and conclude its experiences from the programme and set the way forward.