Government says steps in place to respond to ‘Wuhan virus’

The local government has taken multiple steps to monitor developments and respond locally to reports of a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan.

The local government has taken multiple steps to monitor developments and respond locally to reports of a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province, the Macau Government Information Bureau (GCS) said in a statement on Monday.

“The steps have been taken in order to minimise the risk of such cases having any impact on Macau,” the statement said.

The statement noted that the local government issued on Sunday a Level 3 alert in response to the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak. The alert level means that the risk of a public emergency is at “moderate” level, indicating public health factors – of either environmental or technological origin – requiring firm follow-up action by the local authorities, the statement pointed out.

According to the Macau Post Daily, the alert level was issued after a cross-departmental meeting chaired on Sunday by Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U. The meeting was convened to discuss and evaluate the risk of Wuhan pneumonia cases affecting Macau and to consider further steps against any local outbreak of disease, according to the statement.

In the meeting, the statement said, Ao Ieong outlined a directive from Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng urging all government entities to pay close attention to – and exercise vigilance regarding – developments relating to the viral outbreak in Wuhan.

Appeal not to panic

“The government appealed to the public not to panic regarding the disease reports,” the statement said, adding that “nonetheless, a heightened level of awareness should be displayed by members of the public and greater attention paid to the maintenance of personal and environmental hygiene.”

Raft of steps by 6 entities

According to the statement, In view of the outbreak of viral pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan, local government entities will take the following steps:

1) the Macau Customs Service will deploy additional temperature-monitoring equipment at checkpoint facilities, and work in conjunction with the Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) to stop the illegal importation of animal-based foodstuffs;

2) the Municipal Affairs Bureau will step up efforts regarding inspection and quarantine work; combine its efforts with those of the Customs Service in order to strengthen efforts to prevent the illegal importation and sale of animals; and strengthen hygiene maintenance in public spaces;

3) the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) will keep in close contact with the tourism sector, including disseminating the latest guidelines concerning the matter and assisting the Health Bureau (SSM) in providing – where required – specific training for employees in the tourism sector;

4) the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) and the Health Bureau will continue to provide assistance to casinos in installing temperature-monitoring equipment at venue entrances of their properties. Some casinos have already installed such equipment to detect patrons and employees having a fever;

5) the Government Information Bureau (GCS) will release in a timely manner the latest news regarding the viral outbreak and information about measures for members of the public to take especially while travelling during the Lunar New Year holidays; and

6) the Civil Aviation Authority (AACM) will continue to assist the Health Bureau in monitoring the body temperature of inbound tourists at the airport; strengthen anti-epidemic drills; and optimise where necessary relevant procedures in dealing with any outbreak of the disease.