Macao will appeal for help from Beijing if the city is hit with a huge number of Covid-19 cases in a short space of time, Leong Iek Hou, who heads the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Division of the Health Bureau (SSM), has announced.
The local government has repeatedly warned that Macao is facing a “constantly increasing” risk of suffering Covid-19 community transmissions, as the city has seen an increasing number of Covid-19 positive cases imported from Hong Kong since early last week.
The Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre announced yesterday morning that two more arrivals from Hong Kong have tested positive for Covid-19, both of which were classed as imported and asymptomatic.
Leong said that Macao has reported 13 Covid-19 positive cases imported from Hong Kong since earlier this month, comprising 12 asymptomatic cases and one confirmed case who was suffering Covid-19 symptoms.
Starting today, all arrivals from Hong Kong will be transferred to Treasure Hotel – a special quarantine hotel previously earmarked for those arriving from a high-risk country.
Leong said that since Macao started to see Covid-19 positive cases imported from Hong Kong, 497 people have arrived in Macao, representing a Covid-19 positive rate of 2.6 per cent, which she said is “very high”.
Leong noted that most of the Covid-19 positive cases imported from Hong Kong were detected when the carriers of the novel coronavirus were undergoing their hotel quarantine, adding that this situation is still posing a Covid-19 risk to those working at quarantine hotels, despite the fact that quarantine hotel staff working in a Covid-19 high risk environment are subject to “closed-door management” measures.
Consequently, Leong said, the local government has concluded that it is necessary for all those arriving from Hong Kong to be transferred to Treasure Hotel which has more sophisticated facilities for Covid-19 prevention.
Leong also said that the Macao government does not rule out the possibility of extending its hotel quarantine period for arrivals from Hong Kong from 14 days to 21 days in line with the latest Covid-19 developments there.
Leong also acknowledged that in the SSM’s’s Public Health Clinical Centre which has 60 isolation wards with 110 beds, 43 beds in 40 wards are being used, adding that this situation is “putting pressure” on the availability of isolation beds there.
But Leong was quick to add that the government expects the centre to be able to accommodate more Covid-19 patients despite the fact that Macao has been constantly reporting Covid-19 positive cases that have been imported.
Leong noted that Macao has reported 30 Covid-19 positive cases that have been imported since the beginning of this year, comprising 29 asymptomatic cases and one confirmed case. All the 30 cases were imported from foreign countries and Hong Kong.
Leong also said that if the Public Health Clinical Centre approaches full capacity, Covid-19 close contacts and asymptomatic Covid-19 patients detected during their hotel quarantine will be transferred to other temporary isolation facilities.
Leong said during a current affairs phone-in programme hosted by public broadcaster TDM’s Chinese-language radio channel of public broadcaster on Wednesday that the Macao government has drawn up contingency plans for the possible occurrence of different levels of Covid-19 situations in Macao.
Yesterday she reaffirmed that the government is planning to set up a community treatment and isolation facility to house a large number of new Covid-19 patients.
Leong said that in case Macao is hit by a large number of new Covid-19 patients within a short period of time, thereby exceeding the local government’s full capacity to tackle the situation, it will ask the central government to provide support.
Leong said that therefore it is very important for Macao to avoid a worst-case scenario by carrying out strict Covid-19 prevention measures with the aim of detecting possible cases as early as possible.
Meanwhile, the two Covid-19 asymptomatic cases imported from Hong Kong that were announced yesterday morning comprise a 30-year-old local man and a 63-year-old Hong Kong man, The Macau Post Daily reported.