儘管如此，在我們向局長陳肇始教授提交了一封與立法會議員陳沛然醫生、香港私人執業專科醫生協會會長郭寶賢醫生及香港牙醫學會會長曾憲紀醫生就私營醫生的嚴重業務損失的問題共同簽署的信件之後(會議照片及信件內容請參閱本月刊第11及12頁)，已經與局長會面。於2020 年3月4日於政府總部舉行的會議上，我與局長談到，私營診所的平均業務損失起碼7成至9成，平均為8成。在這個關鍵時期，私家醫生在與政府一起抗擊2019冠狀病毒病方面一直做得很好。 私家醫生缺乏個人防護裝備，但局長回答說政府此刻亦無能為力。她說，我們應該期待新開將的本地口罩生產工廠的額外供應，而新的口罩來源應會於2020 年4月開始發售。我要求政府通過新成立的防疫抗疫基金，為每間私營診所提供十萬港元的資助，以協助這些私營診所。經過接近一小時的會議討論，我們達成共識，即政府應在第二輪抗疫基金中接受我們的要求。我們即將看看政府是否可以在這兩個月內完成。
在會議期間，局長進一步談到了為應對2019冠狀病毒病疫情的加強化驗室監察計劃，她亦要求私家醫生的配合。我們立即提醒政府，此監察計劃可能會給某些私營診所帶來污名化，擔心若相關醫生的患者在2019 冠狀病毒病的即時聚合酶連鎖反應檢測中呈陽性，那些醫生將會被隔離。然而，當該計劃於2020年3月10日推出時，我們注意到了一些後勤問題，這可能會增加社區交叉感染的機會。於2020 年3月10日之後，我不得不在媒體上多次發表，以至最終政府改變了收集樣本的方式。首先，私家醫生絕不需要尋求私人實驗室的幫助來收集患者的樣本以進行測試。第二，有一系列的政府門診診所可供
While writing this message on 22nd March 2020, at the same time I was listening to a Hong Kong microbiologist speaking on the Radio about the imminent danger of many of the Hong Kong citizens spreading the COVID-19 on returning from outside. Are we really in the war time state – World War III - with invisible enemies lurking in our hands, noses and mouths, awaiting ambushes to hurt and kill through close contact with people around us? Yes, we are indeed in the war state. We are indeed living in a condition that we have never met before in a life time.
Then should all commercial activities, except essential services like health, food and banking facilities, be forced to close down for social distancing until the war state is gone? I agree. It is now indeed a matter of life or death when we do not have any curative or preventive measure for this new COVID-19 virus. Everybody should be a soldier to defend oneself and to guard Hong Kong.
Nonetheless, we have met with the Secretary for Food and Health on the issue of severe business loss of the private doctors, after we have issued a co-signed letter to Prof. Sophia Chan (Please refer to page 11 of this Bulletin for the photo of the meeting and page 12 of this Bulletin for the letter) with Dr. the Honorable Pierre Chan, Dr. Samuel Kwok of Hong Kong Association of Private Specialists and Dr. Century Tsang of the Hong Kong Dental Association. During the meeting on 4th March 2020 in the Government Headquarters, I told the Secretary that the average loss of business in private clinics was from 70 to 90% with an average of 80%. Private doctors had been doing their job well in this critical period in fighting together with the Government against the COVID-19 virus. The private doctors were short of PPE but the Secretary replied that at this moment the Government could not help. She said we should be looking forward to additional supplies from newly established local mask production factories. She said the new sources of masks should be available in April 2020. I asked the Government to assist the private clinics by implementing relief fund in the amount of HK$ 100,000 for each private clinic through the newly established Anti-Epidemic Fund set up by the Government. After nearly 1 hour of meeting, we had the consensus that the Government should entertain our request in the second round of Anti-Epidemic Fund. We shall see if that can be accomplished in a month or two.
During the meeting, the Secretary further touched on the Enhanced Laboratory Surveillance programme of testing of COVID-19 and she requested the cooperation from private doctors. We immediately warned the Government on the potential stigmatization of certain private clinics by this test and the worries of some doctors for being quarantined if their patients are proved positive in the PCR test for COVID-19 virus. However, when the programme rolled out on 10th March 2020, we noticed some logistic problems which might increase the chance of cross infection in the community. I was obliged to voice out loudly in the media on several occasions after 10th March 2020 so much so that in the end there was a change in the specimen collection logistics by the Government. Firstly, there is no absolute need for private doctors to seek the help from private laboratories to collect the patients’ specimens for the test. Secondly, there is a list of Government outpatient clinics available for our patients (or their family members or friends) to hand in the specimens (either deep throat saliva or sputum) for COVID-19 PCR test so as to cut down the chance of cross infection. I was given to understand that if the contact time with a confirmed patient is less than 15 minutes, and the clinic staff have worn adequate and appropriate PPE during that period of consultation, the staff in the clinic may not have to be quarantined. So please follow this rule as much as possible to minimize the chance of getting yourself infected by your patients. Hitherto I have sent out more than 30 specimens for COVID-19 tests by now, and luckily no one is positive.
Nearly at the same time, we had sent a request letter, on behalf of some public estate doctors working under Link, to the Link management asking for rental reduction with the similar reason of severe drop of business in this critical period. The letter is reproduced on Page 9 of this bulletin for members’ reference. I hope the Link management can listen to us. I hope other landlords like MTR etc can listen to our voice too. If you have similar requests to landlord, please submit to the secretariat so that we can request for rental reduction with a stronger voice. The outcome may be better if we can fight together with unity.
I have told you in my last message that my first grandson was born in the United States of America in February 2020. I returned to Hong Kong on 19th February 2020. However, my wife has to stay behind a bit longer. She has to fly back to Hong Kong today and certainly has to undergo quarantine. This makes me a bit nervous. But with the support from all our friends here, I think our family can stand up to such a great challenge in the coming 14 or 21 days.
Dr. Yeung Chiu Fat Henry