Macao is continuing to shy away from Covid-19 inoculations, to the frustration of senior health officials.
Despite a serious outbreak on the mainland, and the increasing threat of the virulent Delta variant, vaccination rates remain relatively low, even among civil servants on the front line.
“Residents appear not to feel an urgency to get Covid-19 jabs, unlike last time when Guangzhou was hit by Covid-19 transmissions,” said Tai Wa Hou, a clinical director of the Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre.
In an attempt to further reach out to the public, from 9 am today the Macao Health Code system will add a new function allowing anyone with a fever to book a free nucleic acid test (NAT).
Tai said the measure aims to strengthen the Health Bureau’s (SSM) screening of those with a fever in response to the ongoing Covid-19 spread in the mainland.
The ongoing Covid-19 wave in the mainland has been caused by transmissions of the Delta variant, Tai noted, which was first “imported” into Nanjing before spreading to other regions.
Medical experts have warned that the Delta variant has a high viral load and fast transmission speed, and that it normally takes longer for NAT results of those who have been infected with the variant to become negative – compared to the original novel coronavirus.
Many tourist attractions in the mainland are crowded now due to the summer holidays, Tai noted. In addition, the mainland Covid-19 epidemic originated at Nanjing Lukou International Airport, which is used by a large number of travellers so the novel coronavirus has been spread to various provinces and cities in the mainland. The SSM believes that Covid-19 will continue to spread further in the near future, Tai said.
The SSM is urging residents to suspend unnecessary travel to all provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities other than Guangdong. Tai also said that residents should only travel to the mainland if they really needed to, and should not visit any affected areas.
Despite a successful start to the over-60s walk-in vaccination programme yesterday, Tai reported that many senior citizens were reluctant to get inoculated.
At present, the rates are: 21 per cent among those aged between 60 and 69, 10 per cent among those aged from 70 to 79, and two per cent among those aged 80 or over. Tai said that Macao’s Covid-19 vaccination rate among senior citizens is far lower than those aged between 20 and 59.
“The vaccination rate among senior citizens is not ideal,” he added.
According to the latest figures, 516,374 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered to 286,954 people in Macao, comprising 55,772 who received their first jab and 231,182 who received their second jab.
Macao’s Covid-19 vaccination rate stood at 42 per cent as of 4 pm yesterday.
A total of 15 adverse events were reported in the past 24 hours. The total number of adverse events since the start of the vaccination drive stood at 2,186, or 0.42 per cent of the total number of jabs, including seven serious cases.
Tai reported that 3,000 to 4,000 Covid-19 jabs have been administered per day recently, adding that the SSM has not seen a significant increase in the number of residents getting their jabs in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic in the mainland.
The SSM said last month that Guangzhou’s local Covid-19 epidemic, which started in May and ended in late June, had resulted in a large increase in the number of people in Macao getting their jabs.
Tai again urged residents to get inoculated against Covid-19 as the SSM cannot rule out the possibility that the novel coronavirus has spread to Macao from the mainland.
Tai also revealed that the Covid-19 vaccination rate among civil servants stands at around 42 per cent, about the same as members of the general public. Tai underlined that civil servants, like medical workers, have the responsibility to be inoculated. In addition to getting their jabs, civil servants should also assist the government in its vaccination campaigns by urging others to be inoculated, Tai said, adding that “the vaccination rate among civil servants is not ideal”.
Tai noted that civil servants in Macao working on the frontline, such as public-sector medical workers, customs officers and immigration officers who have not had their Covid-19 jabs are required to undergo a free Covid-19 test every two weeks, reported The Macau Post Daily.
Tai underlined that the Macao government will stick to its existing policy to boost Covid-19 vaccinations among civil servants through awareness campaigns. He said that the government could not “punish” public servants choosing not to be inoculated by requiring them to be tested for Covid-19 regularly.