After Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) was hit by the third round of COVID-19, the National Health Commission (NHC) of China, at the request of the HKSAR government, promptly sent a medical team from the Chinese mainland to conduct nucleic acid tests in Hong Kong and help the region combat the epidemic under the unified command and deployment of the central government.
A universal community testing program was officially launched in Hong Kong on September 1 and concluded 13 days later according to the plan.
Over 1.78 million samples have been tested and 32 newly confirmed cases were reported, as double-checked and confirmed by the Department of Health in Hong Kong.
The universal community testing program has helped cut the chain of transmission in communities quickly, said David Hui Shu-cheong, an advisor to the Hong Kong government on its pandemic response as well as respiratory medicine expert with the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).
Guo Penghao, a member of the medical team sent to Hong Kong, works at the laboratory medicine department of the First Affiliated Hospital with the Sun Yat-sen University and had participated in the response of South China’s Guangdong Province and Beijing against the epidemic before heading for Hong Kong.
On August 2, Guo led a small group of medical workers to Hong Kong before the main force and discussed nucleic acid testing arrangements with officials from relevant Hong Kong departments.
Members of the medical team conducted the testing around the clock and the Huo-Yan laboratory, a modular air dome structure located in the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Sports Center, was put in operation day and night. “We could test over 200,000 samples every day,” Guo noted.
Due to the intensive work, members of the team are even left with scar marks on their faces made from wearing masks for a long time.
Xia Yong, from the Peking University Shenzhen Hospital, had his joints chafed in work and had to wrap them with first-aid tapes for protection.
To enable the residents get the results at an early date, the medical workers need to carry a lot of sample boxes every day. “We need to carry 600 to 800 boxes every day, each for four times,” said Zhao Jie with the Health Commission of Guangdong Province.
Each box may weigh as much as 20 kg or even 30 kg sometimes, Zhao added.
“I would work continuously for 12 hours every day, which means I spend over 10 hours in the laboratory except for necessary activities such as eating and going to the bathroom,” pointed out Cai Yonglin, who comes from the Wuzhou Red Cross Hospital in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Cai arrived in Hong Kong at 3 p.m. on September 3 and began to work at nine that evening.
Since the universal community testing program, Hong Kong residents have actively cooperated with the medical workers and organizations and societies in the region have also expressed gratitude to the medial team with practical actions.
Outside the Huo-Yan lab stands a human-shaped board dressed as the medical workers that says “Thank you for coming to Hong Kong and helping build an anti-epidemic oasis.”
Hong Kong residents volunteered to bring sugar water to the medical workers and left sincere and grateful notes to them.
Organizations and societies in the region brought epidemic-themed souvenirs such as paintings and calligraphy works to the medical workers as a gesture of thanks or sent thank-you cards to the medical workers and praised them for their selfless and kind efforts.
The Hong Kong government held a farewell ceremony for the nucleic acid testing support team from the Chinese mainland on September 15.
It is a challenging yet honorable mission to complete nearly 1.8 million nucleic acid tests in a short period of time, said Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, chief executive of Hong Kong, at the ceremony.
It fully reflects the effort made by every staff member who worked in the Huo-Yan laboratory, as well as the care and concern of the central government and people in the mainland for the people of Hong Kong, according to her.
“On behalf of the HKSAR, I would like to express heartfelt thanks to the central government and every one of the support team,” she noted.
Early on September 16, more than 570 members of the team started to head back home. “I’m very delighted that I have fulfilled my mission,” Li Zhengkang said proudly. Li comes from the Guangdong Provincial People’s Hospital and was among the first batch of medical workers to Hong Kong. Since he arrived there on August 2, he has worked for 46 days in Hong Kong.
Li Dachuan, head of the medical team as well as official with the NHC, and representatives of the medical team branches from Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian Province, thanked Hong Kong residents and organizations for their goodwill. “Their cards, videos and notes have brought us a lot of warmth,” Li said.
All members of the medical team have raced against the clock and made every effort they can to help the Hong Kong society and residents resume their normal life, fully demonstrating the close relations between the residents in the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong compatriots.