Let’s Compare In-Home vs. Hospital COVID-19 Testing

Do you want to get tested for COVID-19, but don’t know where to start? Choosing the right test for you means considering factors like cost, health certification, and risks. To make your life easier, here is a comparison of different COVID-19 testing options. (Last updated on 31/07/2020)


As Hong Kong faces the third wave of COVID-19, both government and private organisations are launching COVID-19 testing, aiming to make testing accessible to Hong Kong citizens. Here, we have compiled various factors, such as the COVID-19 testing process, fees, health certificate, exploring the pros and cons of different COVID-19 testing options in Hong Kong. We hope that our article can help you compare private and public COVID-19 testing, make an informed decision, and stay safe against the virus.

Items to Consider Before Taking the Test

  • Waiting TimeStrict regulations on who can take the COVID-19 test at Hong Kong government hospitals and high demands have extended waiting times for the coronavirus test in the public sector.With Evercare in-home COVID-19 testing, you simply need to sign up online and make a booking, and take the test in the comfort of your own home, at your convenience.

  • Accuracy of Results:Most public tests collect deep throat saliva samples, and only a select number of private hospitals and clinics offer accurate nasal and throat swab tests, which is a sample collecting method recommend by the CHP in Hong Kong. A recent study from CUHK found that the false negative rate of saliva testing is 31%, meaning that it is harder to detect positive cases.  At Evercare, we collect samples through nasal and throat swab, and adopt PCR technology for virus detection. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), its sensitivity for viral loads is higher than 99.9%.

    Regardless of the test you use, we suggest you let a medical professional help you conduct the test correctly. This way, you don’t have to handle your own sample, increasing the accuracy and safety of the test.

  • Risk of Cross-Contamination: With Evercare in-home COVID-19 testing, all the booking process can be done online. You don’t have to wait in a crowded line, and you don’t have to leave the house and submit your own sample, which minimises your risk of cross-contamination.

  • Result Waiting Time:Government test result takes a minimum of 3 days. Privately, you have the option of getting your result within 24-48 hours, or with a rush fee, you can opt to opt for same day result, which is ideal if you need to get tested urgently.

  • Fee: The fee depends largely on the services provided by respective companies. Government testing is more affordable than private testing, but it doesn’t provide lab report or health certifications for travel or work. At Evercare, our service charge includes a professional nurse who will administer the test and submit the sample, a doctor’s review, and a lab report. Click here to learn more.

  • Group Testing:In-home COVID-19 testing is more flexible, because patients don’t need to go to the clinic themselves, and there is no limit on capacity. If the patient wants to do in-home testing, they can opt for our service. We also offer a competitive corporate COVID-19 testing package, so your company can take the test. By getting tested, you can ensure a safer work environment and you won’t need to put a full stop on business. For enquiries, please call 3905 4000.

1. Testing Capacity

Hospital Testing At-Home Testing
Public Hospitals:  No limit on capacity EvercareNo limit on capacity
Private Hospitals: Depending on the hospital’s capacity for bookings on the relevant date. Government Specimen Bottle*:Each clinic distributes 110 specimen bottles, and quantity is limited to one bottle per person.

*Sample bottles to be collected for at-home COVID-19 testing. It is a voluntary testing scheme, tentatively running for four weeks starting from July 27.


2. Eligibility

Hospital Testing At-Home Testing
Public Hospitals:  Suitable for General Out-Patient Clinic or Emergency Room patients. Strict regulations apply. Evercare: Service users have to be asymptomatic.
Private Hospitals: Usually not eligible for the test if you have done the following:

  • Travel within 14 days 
  • Contact with someone with symptoms
Government Specimen Bottle: Suitable for any member of the general public.

Testing Methods

Hospital Testing At-Home Testing
Public Hospitals:  Deep throat saliva test or nasal/throat swab test Evercare: nasal/throat swab test
Private Hospitals: Generally provides deep throat saliva test.

*Union Hospital, Canossa Hospital, and Adventist Hospital provide nasal/throat swabs.

Government Specimen Bottle: Deep throat saliva test



4. Testing Procedure

Hospital Testing At-Home Testing
Public Hospitals: Patients with fever and respiratory difficulties, or with mild symptoms can visit any of 64 out-patient clinics and 17 emergency rooms of the Hospital Authority.

If a doctor determines your eligibility, you will receive a nasal swab test. If the doctor states that you do not need to stay in hospital, you will be sent home to submit a deep throat saliva sample for testing.
Evercare: After the client books online, a professional nurse will come collect the sample and submit it to the lab. Once test result is released, the client can access them via email in 24-48 hours.
Private Hospitals: Clients must first book in advance or obtain a ticket. Sample collection method depends on the hospital.

Generally, clients can do the test in-person or at home, depending on the testing method they’ve chosen. If they are doing a nasal or throat swab, the sample will be collected on site.*Precious Blood Hospital and Baptist Hospital have already paused their public testing services. Other private hospitals may not be able to distribute tickets or provide booking slots because of limited quantities. For detailed information, please consult the websites of the specific hospital. 
Government Specimen Bottle: As of now, clients can request a specimen bottle from 22 government clinics. Clients must collect and submit their deep throat saliva specimen within 3 days.

Sample Collection/ Submission Method

Hospital Testing At-Home Testing
Public Hospitals:  If the citizen chooses to go home and complete the test, they can submit samples using the following methods:

Method 1:Submit them to the relevant collection point.

Method 2:Use the following services to submit the sample
2. Pickupp
3. Toby

Evercare: Nurse will come collect your sample.
Private Hospitals: If doing the test in hospital, a nurse or medical professional would collect your samples. Otherwise, you would need to submit your own samples depending on the hospital’s policy. Government Specimen Bottle: You will have to submit your own sample.


6. Result Waiting Time

Hospital Testing At-Home Testing
Public Hospitals:  Generally, result is available within 3-7 days. If the result is negative, the Hospital Authority will send a text message to the patient.

If result is positive, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) will contact the patient and arrange them to enter quarantine.

Evercare:24-48 hours
Private Hospitals: Result within 24-48 hours, most private hospitals can provide same-day result (extra fee incurred) Government Specimen Bottle:Participants should assume the test result is negative if they do not receive a notification within three working days after submitting the specimen.

7. Lab Report

Hospital Testing At-Home Testing
Public Hospitals:  Not available Evercare:Included in fee
Private Hospitals: Usually available, ask specific hospital if there is a hidden cost. Government Specimen Bottle:Not available

8. Testing Fee

Hospital Testing At-Home Testing
Public Hospitals: Consultation is HK$180 and if eligible, the nasal swab test is free. Testing is free, hospitals will only charge for consultation.

Referral by general outpatient doctor: HK$50
Referral by doctor in emergency department: HK$180

Evercare:HK$2200/person (nursing consultation, in-home testing services, lab report included)
Private Hospitals: Some hospitals offer packages including a consultation, for others you have to pay separately. For packages including a consultation, private hospitals generally charge over HK$1000.  Government Specimen BottleFree of charge.



There are many ways to get tested in Hong Kong. However, our services offer you time flexibility, speed and accuracy – which can matter a lot to those of use who continue to work or feel unsafe in our environment today. Click here to learn more about the process and get started. For enquiries, please call 3905 4000.