In view of the severity of the fifth wave of the epidemic in Hong Kong, to effectively minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the community, the Government is making concerted and all-out efforts against the virus. The Development Bureau (DEVB) and the departments under its ambit, including the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD), Water Supplies Department, Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD), Drainage Services Department (DSD), Architectural Services Department (ArchSD), Lands Department (LandsD), Buildings Department (BD), Planning Department (PlanD) and Land Registry, have deployed more than 1 000 colleagues in total to conduct “restriction-testing declaration” (RTD) and compulsory testing operations at various “restricted areas”. I have specially invited colleagues who have participated in RTD operations to share with us how to roll out the operations in an orderly manner in a very short time and offer help to the affected residents, so as to contain and control the disease in the community as quickly as possible.
RTD operation is one of the important anti-epidemic measures implemented by the Government. Since the onset of the fifth wave of the epidemic, over 200 RTD operations have been conducted by the Government. The considerably high proportion of cases with positive test results indicates that RTD operations enable the Government to focus resources on high-risk districts, identify infected persons for admission to community isolation facilities, and reduce cross-infection risks in households or buildings.
150 members deployed for each operation
This month, the Works Branch of DEVB and departments under its ambit have conducted six RTD operations. Of these, the one conducted in Oi Ming House of Yau Oi Estate on 9 to 10 March was led by the EMSD, with Chief Engineer (Digitalisation & Technology) Mr LEE Che-kit of the department in charge. Mr LEE says that the EMSD deployed about 100 colleagues for the operation, and the whole team had more than 150 people in total with colleagues from the Works Branch of DEVB, CEDD, DSD and ArchSD.
The operation began at 2:30 pm on 9 March. Apart from conducting site inspection one day before the operation, the EMSD also organised the delivery of some of the supplies to the “restricted area” on the day of the operation. Some colleagues gathered at the EMSD Headquarters for briefing at around 1:00 pm for details of the operation and to put on protective equipment. Colleagues took up various positions in the RTD operation, such as setting up the “restricted area”, going upstairs in small teams to remind residents to go downstairs to register and undergo testing, handing out supplies to residents, and distributing rapid antigen test kits to persons subject to compulsory testing. The testing contractor also arranged for door-to-door specimen collection for people with impaired mobility.
Standing united in teamwork
Mr LEE Che-kit says that the operation was carried out with teamwork and selflessness by various departments and teams, including, apart from the DEVB and its departments, a testing contractor and other government departments such as the Food and Health Bureau, Home Affairs Department, Hong Kong Police Force, Government Logistics Department, Housing Department, Fire Services Department, Auxiliary Medical Service, etc. Under such a tight schedule, our colleagues worked together diligently to carry out the RTD operation, which was completed smoothly thanks to the residents’ co-operation. During the operation, a total of 1 715 people within the “restricted area” were tested, among which 248 preliminary positive cases and 28 indeterminate cases were detected and referred to the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health for follow-up action. Arrangements were made for confirmed patients to be admitted to community isolation facilities on the following day.
Knocking on door after door for testing in batches
During the RTD operation at Oi Ming House, colleagues from different departments had to knock on door after door, reminding residents to go downstairs in batches for testing. As some residents might not be at home, colleagues had to go upstairs on three separate occasions during the period to make sure they could reach all those who needed to be tested.
No worries with adequate protective measures
DSD colleagues who took part in the RTD operation say that thanks to the residents' full co-operation, the entire testing process went very smoothly. Delighted to have contributed to the fight against the epidemic, they are not worried about their own safety, believing that with adequate protective measures, we will definitely win this battle.
Residents expressed satisfaction with the RTD arrangements
Residents of Oi Ming House, after receiving the test, said they understood that the RTD operation was conducted in the interest of public safety and commended the staff for the proper arrangements, clear instructions and smooth process. They also appreciated the hard work of the staff and encouraged them to continue their efforts. Some residents also said that they were a bit worried and nervous at the beginning of the operation, but felt more at ease after receiving the tests. Moreover, they understood and accepted that they were unable to go out due to the temporary restriction.
Formidable challenges at work
As a matter of fact, various departments have deployed staff members to take part in RTD operations for more than once. Earlier on (4 and 5 March), more than 120 colleagues from the Planning and Lands Branch (PLB) of the DEVB and the LandsD were mobilised to conduct an RTD operation in respect of Tak Cheung House, Tak Long Estate, Kowloon City. Assistant Director of the LandsD, Ms CHIU Lee-lee, Lily, who took charge of the operation, says that the operation involved a great deal of work to be done, which included making suitable deployment of manpower and maintaining liaison with different departments, in a race against time. What’s more, she and her colleagues had to perform duties in airtight protective gear, and it took a short while before they were beaded with sweat.
The challenges of the RTD operation, she says, came from two aspects: enabling residents to leave and return home freely as soon as possible, and assuming the responsibility of safeguarding the health of fellow colleagues. She is very pleased that all the colleagues participating in the RTD operation worked together seamlessly and spared no effort in the fight against the epidemic, which enabled the entire operation to be completed ahead of schedule. Despite some unforeseeable incidents during the operation, all the problems encountered were resolved smoothly with the tireless efforts of her team members.
On 8 and 9 March, the BD and the Land Registry altogether deployed more than 120 staff members to take part in an RTD operation in respect of Block 1 and Block 2, Sherwood Court, Kingswood Villas, Yuen Long. Apart from mobilising its staff members to participate in the operation, the BD went the extra mile and set up a telephone hotline to provide enquiry service and assistance to residents waiting for testing results.
Another inter-departmental operation the DEVB participated in was conducted on 11 and 12 March. More than 120 staff members from the PLB, the LandsD and the PlanD conducted an RTD operation in respect of Tun Man House, Oi Man Estate, Ho Man Tin. The PlanD also established a liaison task force responsible for answering enquiries from residents in the “restricted area” through a telephone hotline, as well as maintaining close communication with and providing suitable support for them. During the operation, more than 200 infected residents were issued with isolation orders. Understanding that the residents were particularly concerned about the quarantine arrangements for confirmed cases, the liaison task force, upon receiving a list of infected patients, proactively approached such patients to know more about their situation and needs, as well as explaining to them the quarantine arrangements and the points to note, so as to allay their concerns. Meanwhile, colleagues from the LandsD had to race against the clock to serve isolation orders to those infected and contact relevant departments for follow-up arrangements, in a bid to escort such residents to community isolation facilities within the shortest period of time.
Gratitude to colleagues for braving the hardship in the joint fight against the virus
The DEVB has been fully mobilising all available manpower to join the anti-epidemic effort on all fronts. I would like to extend my gratitude to my colleagues for braving the hardship and difficult times to take up various anti-epidemic tasks at the forefront and for their united and collaborative efforts in the fight against the virus, bringing into full play the whole-of-government spirit to fight the epidemic. I would also like to extend my gratitude to members of the public for supporting the Government’s anti-epidemic measures. I deeply believe that with the staunch support of the Central Government and concerted efforts of the community, Hong Kong will definitely ride out the epidemic early.
20 March, 2022Back