The Health Bureau (SSM) has rolled out special entry, quarantine and testing measures after two people in Macao were identified yesterday afternoon as close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 patient in Zhongshan city.
The new measures include tightening the validity of the negative nucleic acid test (NAT) result for those entering Macao from Guangdong to just 48 hours from seven days, which takes effect today, SSM Director Alvis Lo Iek Long announced.
The SSM last night identified one more close contact of the Zhongshan Covid-19 patient.
The validity of the negative Covid-19 NAT result for those entering Guangdong from Macao remains unchanged at seven days.
The Zhongshan health authorities confirmed a new Covid-19 case yesterday morning, a 24-year-old woman who lives and works in Tanzhou town in Zhongshan city.
The woman sought treatment at a hospital in Tanzhou on Wednesday after coming down with a fever. She tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the early hours of yesterday.
According to yesterday’s announcement by the Zhongshan authorities, the woman lives in Phase 1 of the International Blossom Palace (錦繡國際花城) residential neighbourhood in Tanzhou.
While Tanzhou town is in Zhongshan city, it neighbours Zhuhai and only lies some 10 kilometres northwest of Macao.
The two Covid-19 close contacts announced yesterday afternoon are a 45-year-old male non-resident worker from the mainland who works in the Sol Nascente (“Rising Sun”) Nursing Home in Areia Preta district, and a 59-year-old local woman who works in the Taipa Fong Chong Crèche in Taipa. Both tested negative for Covid-19 yesterday, and have been transferred to the Health Bureau’s Public Health Clinical Centre in Coloane for quarantine.
The Covid-19 close contact announced last night is a 40-year-old male construction worker from the mainland. He was staying in Tanzhou last night.
Anyone who visited the residential neighbourhood in Tanzhou where the 24-year-old woman lives, including those who had already entered Macao, must undergo hotel quarantine for up to 14 days from the day they left there.
Both attended a banquet in Tanzhou on Sunday, which was also attended by the Zhongshan Covid-19 patient, so both have been classified as close contacts. After returning to Macao on Sunday night, both worked on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
According to the centre, “secondary” Covid-19 close contacts in Taipa Fong Chong Crèche have been transferred to one of the government’s “quarantine hotels” for medical observation, while the SSM has arranged for “secondary” close contacts at the Sol Nascente Nursing Home to stay there for their quarantine.
Leong Iek Hou, who heads the SSM’s Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Division, said that 38 children from Taipa Fong Chong Crèche and 43 colleagues of the 59-year-old woman have been transferred to hotel quarantine.
Each of the children is accompanied by a parent. A total of 145 people at the Sol Nascente Nursing Home – staff members and senior citizens living there – are now undergoing quarantine, Leong said.
According to Leong, the 45-year-old man normally lives in Block 3 of Son Lei Building in Iao Hon district, while the 59-year-old woman normally lives in Block 5 of the Lago public housing estate in Taipa. Those living with either of the two are also required to undergo quarantine. Both have told health officials that they walked to work every day, Leong said.
According to the centre, the 40-year-old construction worker told the SSM yesterday evening that he also attended the banquet in Tanzhou on Sunday, so he has also been classified as a Covid-19 close contact. The man, who is employed by Cheong Kong Construction Company in Macao, worked on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, before returning to Tanzhou yesterday. Six colleagues who had been working with him have been classified as “secondary” Covid-19 close contacts.
Lo noted that the SSM has activated its Covid-19 contingency plan by carrying out certain special novel coronavirus measures in the wake of the Tanzhou Covid-19 case.
From today, according to Lo, all those entering Macao from the mainland via all border checkpoints other than the local airport must present a nucleic acid test (NAT) certificate confirming a negative Covid-19 result valid for just 48 hours, a change from the seven-day-validity requirement which had been in force until last night.
Lo also said that all those who have visited Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the International Blossom Palace residential neighbourhood in Tanzhou, including those who had already entered Macao, must now undergo hotel quarantine for up to 14 days from the day they had left the town. However, the quarantine will last at least seven days.
Furthermore, Lo said, all those who have visited Tanzhou town must now practise “self-health management” for up to 14 days from the day they had left there. They will have to undergo up to five nucleic acid tests during their respective “self-health management” period, Lo said.
Lo said that the Health Bureau will continue its investigations so as to identify more possible Covid-19 close contacts of the 45-year-old man and the 59-year-old woman.
As of yesterday afternoon, according to Lo, 2,898 people in Macao have visited Tanzhou within the past 14 days, while 18 people in Macao have visited the International Blossom Palace residential neighbourhood in Tanzhou.
According to Lo, all cross-border students and teachers enrolled in local schools who live in Zhuhai or Zhongshan, totalling 4,296, are also required to undergo a one-off nucleic acid test. As of yesterday afternoon, Lo said, 1,944 of them had had their swabs collected.
Lo underlined that the SSM does not rule out the possibility that more Covid-19 positive cases will be detected in Zhongshan in the near future as the health authorities there have still not identified the source of infection of the 24-year-old case in Tanzhou.
He said that Macao is now facing a higher Covid-19 risk. Lo urged residents to remain vigilant against the novel coronavirus, avoid attending events involving crowd gatherings, and stick to Covid-19 personal protection measures.
He added that Macao currently has 266 isolation beds for Covid-19 patients, The Macau Post Daily reported.