Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng has said that Macao must continue to stick to the “dynamic zero-Covid” approach, as otherwise quarantine-free travel arrangements between the city and the mainland cannot be maintained.
Ho made the remarks as Macao recorded five more positive novel coronavirus cases, two from Europe and three from Hong Kong, one of whom was diagnosed with pneumonia after coming down with Covid-19 symptoms raising the city’s tally to 81.
Hong Kong’s health services continue to be overwhelmed, despite assistance from mainland professionals, with more than 26,000 cases and 83 deaths yesterday, RTHK reported.
Asked whether Macao could gradually relax its Covid-19 prevention, entry and quarantine measures, Ho underlined that Macao must continue to carry out its Covid-19 measures in close coordination with the mainland.
Ho pointed out that currently, on average, 350,000 exits and entries by residents, non-resident workers and visitors are recorded between Macao and the mainland every day.
“If we were to carry out another Covid-19 prevention approach that is not the same as in the mainland, it would be difficult to maintain the [quarantine-free] opening of our borders with the mainland,” Ho said.
Ho then asked rhetorically “does everyone want to see Macao’s [Covid-19] situation become like in Hong Kong currently?”.
Ho also underlined the need for the government to carry out its “strong” Covid-19 vaccination campaign for children.
Ho noted that the government has not carried out “very tough” measures to push residents to get inoculated against Covid-19 as it still does not require those entering certain venues and facilities to have been inoculated against the novel coronavirus.
Ho was quick to add that the government has to intensify its Covid-19 vaccination campaign for children, particularly after seeing that Hong Kong has reported several fatalities of children infected with Covid-19.
In related news, the government launched its outreach Covid-19 vaccination programme for kindergartens and primary schools on Saturday.
Health Bureau (SSM) officials said that around 6,300 out of about 60,000 children aged between 3 and 11 in Macao have been inoculated against Covid-19, representing a jab rate of merely around 10.8 per cent, which they said was still very low.
Children aged between 3 and 11 in Macao have been covered by the government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme since late November when it lowered the minimum age for Sinopharm jabs from 12 to 3.
Two types of Covid-19 vaccines are currently available in Macao, China’s Sinopharm inactivated vaccine and Germany’s BioNTech mRNA vaccine. Currently, Sinopharm jabs are administered to those aged three or over in Macao, while BioNTech shots are given to those aged 12 or over.
The local government launched its outreach Covid-19 inoculation programme for secondary schools in September last year, The Macau Post Daily reported.