If fighting the coronavirus were as simple as giving residents self-help kits, the epidemic would not have dragged on for more than two years. Yet it will take another week for the Hong Kong government to start distributing rapid test kits and face masks to households. Overdue as it is, the move will encourage people to stay vigilant and undergo self-tests more often. That it has taken so long for the authorities to act is to be regretted. The pledge to provide anti-epidemic supply kits to all households within this month was first disclosed in the chief executive’s daily press briefing on March 19. Announcing the details on Friday, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said residents would obtain the materials within a week in early April. Evidently, packaging and distributing millions of supply kits require manpower and time. But the delay gives the impression that the endeavour was not taken with a sense of urgency. This is particularly so when rapid test kits, face masks and proprietary Chinese medicine have been widely available in the market for some time. Hong Kong to hand out Covid-19 protection kits to 3 million households Earlier, online footage showed a single kit packaged by a handful of workers in what was said to be a mock training session to help improve the workflow. According to the government, more than 10,000 volunteers and civil servants will be mobilised to pack the supply kits in the coming week. Deliveries will be done through the Housing Department, property management companies and rural bodies, as well as civil servants and volunteers. Those who are not covered in the arrangements can get the kit from district distribution centres. The logistical challenges should not be underestimated. There have been similar initiatives before. The distribution of face masks in 2020, including the custom-made washable CuMask+, was meant to better protect residents during the epidemic. But the masks were only available a few months after the supply shortage had eased. This time, the government is lagging behind again. That said, the kit is nonetheless a positive step to make up for the government’s inadequacies in curbing the latest wave of the outbreak. The distribution arrangements can also strengthen the preparation for future crises. The battle to control the pandemic, after all, could be a long-drawn-out one.