Taxi drivers taking the government’s Universal Community Testing Programme (UCTP) Covid-19 test and who test negative will earn a special tag to be displayed in their taxis.
The tag, which gives the driver’s taxi identity plate and the date of the negative test, is free of charge and is allowed to be displayed prominently in their taxis.
While citizens are understood to be allowed but one UCTP test, the government says it will consider “repeated testing for taxi drivers” and will also consider scheme enhancements such as showing tag information on taxi-hailing apps.
Registration for Universal Community Testing Programme starts tomorrow (29 August), with the government appealing to all members of the public to take part.
The government will send negative UCTP test results by SMS – taxi drivers who test negative can use this SMS to pick up their tags from any of 30 taxi trade organisations, with no prior booking required.
Public transport worker support is crucial, says the government: “[Transport Department] appeals to members of the public transport trade sector (including taxi drivers) to actively participate in the UCTP with a view to achieving the target of early identification of asymptomatic Covid-19 patients to cut the community transmission chain and continuously adopt all feasible prevention measures to protect public health,” it says.
Some in the community have expressed concern over the value of mass voluntary testing, but Chief Executive Carrie Lam has defended the scheme as a sound way to identify “silent transmitters”.
“The testing is globally accepted as a good means to identify early the confirmed cases so that they could be isolated for treatment,” she said before an ExCo meeting on Tuesday (25 August).
Lam also addressed the issue of Covid-19 tests having value for only a few days. “As far as the effectiveness or the efficacy of the testing, this is not something new, we all know by now that the Covid-19 test is only valid for a few days or up to two weeks, maybe. This is a fact. It’s not something innovative in our situation. But having a test is still useful as I have demonstrated with the figures on the number of confirmed cases that we managed to discover through various testing programmes,” she said.
Vulnerable groups and key workers, including taxi drivers and ferry, tram and MTR workers have already been offered several rounds of free testing.