Macao has detected its first case of the N501Y variant, the highly contagious mutant strain spreading in Britain, the Health Bureau’s (SSM) Control of Communicable Diseases and Surveillance of Diseases Department Coordinator Leong Iek Hou has announced.
Leong said that a local female resident has tested positive for the novel coronavirus again during her quarantine at the SSM’s quarantine facility in Coloane after returning from the United Kingdom – where she had previously been confirmed as a Covid-19 patient – early this month has been found to carry the variant.
The SSM has not classified the woman as a Covid-19 case for Macao – despite the fact that she tested positive for Covid-19 again in a nucleic acid test (NAT) last week following her negative results in a number of tests, according to The Macau Post Daily.
The SSM says the fact that some Covid-19 patients discharged from hospital, or asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus, have later tested positive for the virus again is “merely a phenomenon”, which does not mean that they have had a relapse.
The 24-year-old, who was studying in the UK, is among the 15 local residents who returned to Macao on 7 March from Europe and the United States via Taipei.
After the woman was confirmed as a Covid-19 patient in the UK on 6 January she underwent home quarantine. She tested negative for Covid-19 in a nucleic acid test on 25 February and in another test on 3 March in Britain, before departing from London on 6 March to Macao via Paris and Taipei.
She tested negative for Covid-19 in a NAT after landing on 7 March, when she was taken to one of the government’s “quarantine hotels” for her 21-day quarantine and medical observation.
The woman tested negative for Covid-19 in two more nucleic acid tests which were taken on 12 and 19 March. A serology test on 20 March showed that she tested negative for IgM antibodies but positive for IgG antibodies, after which she was transferred to Coloane for medical observation and follow-up Covid-19 tests.
The woman still tested negative for Covid-19 in a follow-up NAT last Wednesday but tested positive for the virus again in another NAT on Friday.
The SSM decided not to classify the 24-year-old as a Covid-19 case, considering that she had tested negative for Covid-19 in several NATs since returning to Macao after having previously been confirmed as a Covid-19 patient elsewhere, apart from the fact that she had not come down with any Covid-19 symptoms after coming home. Consequently, the SSM said, the woman’s case is one in which a person “later tested positive for the novel coronavirus again”.
Leong noted that the woman is in a stable condition and has not come down with any Covid-19 symptoms.