A citywide lockdown, a temporary hospital and a treatment and isolation facility at the East Asian Games Dome in Cotai would be the three pillars of Macao’s emergency plan in the event of a massive Covid-19 outbreak.
Health Bureau (SSM) Director Alvis Lo Iek Long said in case Macao needs to impose a citywide lockdown, government support teams would be deployed to ensure that all residents have access to daily necessities during the lockdown period.
If Macao experienced a drastic rise in Covid-19 cases, quarantine hotels would be used to house patients.
The contingency plan announced yesterday also includes the setting-up of mobile laboratories for Covid-19 nucleic acid tests (NAT), enabling Macao to test up to 800,000 people per day.
In case the community treatment and isolation facility at the East Asian Games Dome is needed, Lo said, it could be set up and come into use within 10 days.
Lo said that in case Macao is hit by a massive Covid-19 outbreak, the local government would face five major challenges to tackle the outbreak:
– community-level or citywide restrictions and control measures
– extensive epidemiological investigations, screening and testing for Covid-19
– the setting-up of temporary high-capacity treatment and isolation facilities
– the government’s ability to transport Covid-19 patients to isolation facilities and other people affected by Covid-19 to quarantine facilities and to provide Covid-19-affected individuals with food and other daily necessities
– announcements and the release of news and information and updates on Covid-19.
In the event of a massive outbreak, the city’s fight against the novel coronavirus would be jointly carried out by the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre and the Civil Protection Operations Centre, both led by the chief executive, Lo said, adding that the government would set up 15 special working teams run by officials from various public entities, to carry out the various tasks concerning the five major challenges.
Lo said that Macao’s successful fight against a Covid-19 outbreak would require population-wide participation in addition to government entities, such as private enterprises and organisations, community association, volunteers, and all residents in general.
Lo also said that the government announced details of its worst-case Covid-19 contingency plan with the aim of gathering opinions and suggestions from civil society. The government has also been carrying out drills, exercises, staff training and other preparatory work concerning the various tasks that would need to be activated in case of a Covid-19 outbreak.
Lo noted that Macao currently has a total of 266 isolation beds, comprising 120 beds in the Health Bureau’s Public Health Clinical Centre in Coloane and 146 beds in the Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre.
If Macao had more than 100 new Covid-19 patients, Lo said, a community treatment and isolation centre would come into use as a temporary facility, providing 1,400 beds. If the number of new Covid-19 patients further increased to over 1,500, Lo said, quarantine hotels would be used to house Covid-19 patients. According to the contingency plan, Lo said, the hotels to be earmarked for this purpose could accommodate around 1,000 Covid-19 patients initially.
In addition, Lo said, the government is also planning the possible setting-up of a 1,000-bed outdoor Covid-19 makeshift hospital, adding that the number of beds could be further increased in line with the need.
According to Lo, the community treatment and isolation centre would be set up at the Macao East Asian Games Dome and its adjacent Athletes Training and Development Centre in Cotai.
The 1,400 beds in the facility would comprise 500 beds in the East Asian Games Dome and 900 beds in the Athletes Training and Development Centre.
The community treatment and isolation centre would have a mobile laboratory for Covid-19 nucleic acid tests, Lo said.
Lo said that based on Macao’s latest Covid-19 vaccination rate – which stood at 82.2 per cent yesterday, the vast majority of patients could be expected to be asymptomatic or showing mild symptoms in case of a Covid-19 outbreak here.
Lo said that these kinds of Covid-19 patients, who have a lower-level need for medical treatment and care, could be transferred to a community treatment and isolation facility, while those in a serious or critical condition would always be taken to the current first-level medical and isolation facilities – namely the Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre or the Public Health Clinical Centre.
According to Lo, the Macao government’s worst-case Covid-19 contingency plan also includes home isolation arrangements, details of which would be announced in line with the city’s latest Covid-19 developments.
In case the use of the community treatment and isolation centre in Cotai would be needed for a Covid-19 outbreak, Lo said, the government would need two or three days to remove certain existing facilities to make way for the setting-up of medical facilities, which could be completed within seven days. Consequently, Lo said, the community treatment and isolation centre could come into use within 10 days.
Lo also said that the government was looking for a large open-air carpark as the location for the possible setting-up of an outdoor Covid-19 makeshift hospital. Lo said that an area of 10,000 square metres would be needed for the setting-up of a 1,000-bed makeshift hospital.
Lo said that based on Macao’s current testing and laboratory equipment, the city is able to test up to 340,000 people per day. In case of a massive Covid-19 outbreak, Lo said, the government would ask the respective suppliers to set up mobile laboratories for Covid-19 nucleic acid tests, either vehicle or air-inflated laboratories.
Vehicle laboratories would enable Macao to test up to 300,000 additional people per day, while air-inflated laboratories would enable the city to test up to 800,000 additional people per day, according to Lo.
If needs be, Lo said, the mobile laboratories would be set up and come into use in three or four days.
According to the contingency plan, Lo said, the local government would impose various restrictions and control measures in case Macao reported new local Covid-19 cases, such as the closure of certain public venues, class suspensions, the cancellation of all large events, and a reduced schedule of public buses.
In addition, Lo said, community-based Covid-19 prevention and control measures would also be activated for areas affected by Covid-19.
In case Macao is hit by a serious Covid-19 outbreak, Lo said, the government would impose a citywide lockdown, when residents must stay at home except for essential tasks, The Macau Post Daily reported.