Asymptomatic Testing for Covid-19

Waiting for an internal review by Department of Health of their handling of this request.

Allyson van de Pol

Dear Department of Health,

Given that the WHO no longer recommends the testing of asymptomatic persons, may I ask why asymptomatic testing is mandated at the airport and in various other sectors of society?

Please see link below.

https://apps.who.int/iris/rest/bitstream...

Yours faithfully,

Allyson van de Pol

Department of Health

Dear Allyson van de Pol,

Your email dated 16 August 2021 is received.

Please be advised that the requested information is under the purview of
the Food and Health Bureau ("FHB").   Subject to your consent, we will
refer your case to FHB for direct reply.  Grateful for your consent by
replying to this email by 25 August 2021 (Wednesday).  Thank you

If you have any enquiry, please contact Ms Sophy KWOK, Executive
Officer(Personnel)3 at 3107 2593.  Thank you.

Regards,

(Ms Sophy KWOK)
for Director of Health

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Allyson van de Pol

Dear Department of Health,

No problem, thank you!

Yours faithfully,

Allyson van de Pol

Department of Health

Dear Allyson van de Pol,

Thank you for your reply.  Please be informed that your request has been
referred to Food and Health Bureau and they will reply to you directly.
The Access to Information Officers of Food and Health Bureau can be
reached by the following means -

Telephone No:         (852) 3509 8765
Fax No:         (852) 2541 3352  
Email Address:  [email address]
Administration Unit
Food and Health Bureau
Address:         18/F, East Wing,
Central Government Offices,
2 Tim Mei Avenue, Tamar,
Hong Kong

Thank you.

Regards,
Ms Sophy KWOK
(for Director of Health)

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Department of Health

Dear Allyson van de Pol,
 
The Food and Health Bureau (FHB) received your application under the Code
on Access to Information on 23 August 2021.
 
Testing has been an integral part of the Government’s strategy in
preventing and fighting the virus.  The Government regularly reviews
whether certain targeted groups, such as high-risk and high-exposure
groups and essential staff of critical infrastructure and services, should
undergo regular testing based on the latest epidemic risk assessment.  
This is not contrary to WHO’s position on preventing and mitigation
COVID-19 at workplace outside healthcare facilities.  
 
As the global situation of COVID-19 infection remains severe and there is
a continuous increase in the number of cases involving mutant strains that
carry higher transmissibility, there are also reports of breakthrough
infections in some vaccinated individuals who are asymptomatic.  In the
light of multiple and continuous cases involving the L452R mutant strain
detected in Hong Kong recently, and taking into account the high
transmissibility of mutant strains, we consider it necessary to extend the
relevant testing arrangements such that we can take effective measures
against the cases immediately to cut off hidden transmission chains as
quickly as possible.  By identifying, isolating and providing medical
treatment to the asymptomatic patients, we can safeguard the health of
their families and friends, and bring down the risk of secondary and
tertiary infection in the community.  This is in fact in line with WHO’s
stance that policies aimed at protecting workers serve to help prevent
community transmission of the virus and protect the economy by maintaining
open and safe workplaces.
 
The Government will also continue to require staff of targeted groups to
receive vaccination as soon as possible, while at the same time strengthen
the testing arrangements for staff who have yet to complete a vaccination
course.  In view of the protection brought by the vaccination, fully
vaccinated staff will in general no longer be required to undergo regular
or such frequent testing.  The Government calls on the public to treasure
the vaccine supply in Hong Kong and get vaccinated as soon as possible.
 
(Mr Alba AU)
Food and Health Bureau
From:        Allyson van de Pol
<[1][FOI #717 email]>
To:        FOI requests at Department of Health <[2][Department of Health request email]>
Date:        16/08/2021 15:25
Subject:        Freedom of Information request - Asymptomatic Testing for
Covid-19

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Dear Department of Health,

Given that the WHO no longer recommends the testing of asymptomatic
persons, may I ask why asymptomatic testing is mandated at the airport and
in various other sectors of society?

Please see link below.
[3]https://apps.who.int/iris/rest/bitstream...

Yours faithfully,

Allyson van de Pol

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References

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Allyson van de Pol

Dear Department of Health,

Thanks for your reply.

May I bring your attention to the key points in the afore attached WHO document

"Testing of asymptomatic individuals with NAAT or Ag-RDTs is currently recommended only for specific groups including contacts of confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases and frequently exposed groups such as health care workers and long-term care facility workers.
• Widespread screening of asymptomatic individuals is not a currently recommended strategy due to the significant costs associated with it and the lack of data on its operational effectiveness."

Teachers, F&B workers returnees from overseas, locked down tenants etc do not fit into the above categories, so why are they still being habitually tested, contravening the WHO's recommendations?

Please advise how you consider the situation to be 'severe' in Hong Kong? How many deaths from Covid 19 have we had during 2021?

Indeed, RT-PCR testing has been proven to be ineffective with high false positive rates, and 'leaky' vaccines, showing breakthrough cases, especially of the Delta variant (I understand that nearly all recent 'cases' were from vaccinated individuals), can you therefore please advise the thought process and protocol to test as many people as possible and to vaccinate as many people as possible and why these strategies are effective?

Many thanks

Yours faithfully,

Allyson van de Pol

Department of Health

I am out of the office from 25/08/2021 14:30 until 25/08/2021 17:30.

For urgent matters, please contactMiss Jackie LAM, CO(Per)4 at 3107 2571 /
&DH/CO[Per]4.

Note: This is an automated response to your message "Internal review of
Freedom of Information request - Asymptomatic Testing for Covid-19" sent on
25.08.2021 03:22:20 PM.

This is the only notification you will receive while this person is away.

Department of Health

Dear Allyson van de Pol,

Your email dated 25 August 2021 is received.

We noted that your request for internal review is related to a reply made
by Food and Health Bureau ("FHB") earlier.  Subject to your consent, we
will refer your request to FHB for direct reply.  Grateful for your
consent by replying to this email by 27 August 2021 (Friday).  Thank you

If you have any enquiry, please contact Ms Sophy KWOK, Executive
Officer(Personnel)3 at 3107 2593.  Thank you.

Regards,

(Ms Sophy KWOK)
for Director of Health

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Dear Department of Health,

Your response is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, you should have responded by now.

Please reply ASAP.

Thank you!

Yours faithfully,

Allyson van de Pol

Department of Health

I am out of the office until 08/12/2021.

For urgent matters, please contact Miss Jackie LAM, CO(Per)4 at 3107 2571 /
&DH/CO[Per]4.

Note: This is an automated response to your message "Internal review of
Freedom of Information request - Asymptomatic Testing for Covid-19" sent on
15.09.2021 03:01:32 PM.

This is the only notification you will receive while this person is away.

Department of Health

Dear Allyson van de Pol,

Preceding email (dated 1 September 2021 from Ms Sophy KWOK) refers, I
should be grateful to have your consent for referral of your application
to Food and Health Bureau for direct handling.

In addition, I have attached below the Delivery Failure Report dated 1
September 2021 for your reference.  Thank you.

Regards,
(Miss Cheyenne LEE)
for Director of Health

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Dear Department of Health,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department of Health's handling of my FOI request 'Asymptomatic Testing for Covid-19'.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://accessinfo.hk/en/request/asympto...

Yours faithfully,

Allyson van de Pol