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Over 3.1k virus cases identified

The Centre for Health Protection today said it is investigating 3,172 additional locally acquired COVID-19 cases, of which 449 were identified through nucleic acid tests and 2,723 via rapid antigen tests.   Separately, 111 imported cases were detected.   Furthermore, seven residential care homes for the elderly and five for disabled people logged 13 cases involving their residents.   The Hospital Authority reported that 20 patients passed away in public hospitals. According to a preliminary analysis, the cause of death for nine patients was related to COVID-19, while that of the remaining 11 patients was unrelated.   It also registered eight more critical cases, bringing the number of patients in critical condition to 93.   Separately, to align with the Government’s cancellation of issuing isolation orders from tomorrow, the authority will, starting from the same day, announce at 8.30am and 1pm the information of general out-patient clinics (GOPC) quota reserved for COVID-19

Virus testing abnormality probed

The Government said it is extremely concerned about the abnormality in the preliminary positive results of COVID-19 testing conducted by a testing service provider and has taken resolute actions to follow up on the incident.   The incident involves 30 cases that were initially confirmed by private laboratory BGI as 29 preliminary positive cases and one indeterminate case. The test results from these specimens collected on April 20 showed that the viral load of the specimens was low.   The specimens were sent to the Public Health Laboratory Service Branch (PHLSB) of the Department of Health for confirmation tests in accordance with the established practice.   Among these 30 preliminary positive cases, 21 were local ones from multiple districts in Hong Kong with no clustered pattern or epidemiological linkage. As some of the patients admitted to the Hospital Authority for isolation subsequently tested negative for virus and serology tests, there is a possibility these people have not contracted the virus at all.   The same service provider is involved in two confirmed cases announced earlier by the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) in which the people returned from the Mainland in early April, and a preliminary positive case announced on April 17 that involved a kindergarten teacher who was tested with an indeterminate result by the PHLSB upon the confirmation test. They were tested again with negative results after admission to hospitals and also tested negative for the antibody test.   The CHP found the situation to be abnormal and has invited a member of the Government's Expert Advisory Panel Prof Yuen Kwok-yung and his team from the University of Hong Kong to inspect the laboratory concerned.   As there is a high possibility the aforementioned cases are false positives, if the affected people test negative during isolation and test negative for antibodies to COVID-19, they will be discharged from the hospital. Close contacts of these cases who were sent to quarantine facilities will be allowed to leave if they test negative.   To safeguard the quality of community testing results, the CHP and the PHLSB will conduct an investigation on the concerned private laboratory. The incident mainly involved specimens collected from community testing centres in Siu Lun Community Hall and Ngau Tau Kok Road Sports Centre, mobile specimen collection stations in Yau Oi Estate in Tuen Mun and Sha Tsui Road Playground on April 20, and specimens collected at a quarantine hotel.   The investigation will cover the infection control of the laboratory and the specimen collection stations it operates, the test accuracy of the laboratory, and other relevant factors.   The Government said that if the medical laboratory and its professional personnel are found to have violated relevant professional codes, it will report the case to the Medical Laboratory Technologists Board for follow-up actions.   If the quality of service of the concerned testing service provider is found to be unsatisfactory, the service provider will be required to submit a report making improvement suggestions and follow up on the improvement measures.   The Government said it will consider appropriate punishment based on the severity of the incident in accordance with the terms and conditions of the service contract.
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