Addressing Monday’s daily press conference about Macau’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, Alvis Lo Iek Long, a clinical director of the public Conde S. Januário Hospital Centre, urged those entering Macau from Zhuhai to give up the idea of being taken to the local government’s nucleic acid testing station at the Taipa Ferry Terminal in Pac On for a COVID-19 test by not obtaining a valid nucleic acid test certificate in advance in the mainland prior to their arrival here.
Since last Monday, all arrivals from the mainland have to show a nucleic acid test certificate proving that they have tested negative for COVID-19 – or had their sample collected – within the past seven days before being allowed to enter Macau. Macau residents and visitors who do not have the certificate will be taken to the Pac On testing station for a nucleic acid test, while non-resident workers from the mainland will be denied entry.
Since Sunday, those who have obtained a nucleic acid test certificate merely indicating that they have had their sample collected must wait at least 24 hours before they are allowed to enter Zhuhai or Macau freely. Macau residents returning to Macau who have had their sample collected less than 24 hours earlier are required to undergo medical observation at their home until reaching the 24-hour requirement, while visitors entering Macau are required to undergo medical observation in their hotel guestrooms.
The new measure means that a nucleic acid test certificate indicating that the person has had their sample collected less than 24 hours before is no longer “valid” for them to cross the Macau-Zhuhai border. Consequently, mainland non-resident workers who fail to show a “valid” nucleic acid test certificate will be denied entry – they are not eligible to complete the 24-hour requirement within Macau.
The local government’s nucleic acid testing programme, which was launched on May 7, is open to local Macau-Zhuhai cross-border commuters, as well as certain groups of mainland non-resident workers and mainland visitors. People have to make an appointment first to undergo their tests at the Pac On testing station. The first test is free of charge for all Macau residents and non-resident workers, but follow-up tests will cost 180 patacas each. However, mainland visitors have to pay 180 patacas for each test – no fee exemption even for the first test. Cross-border pupils and teachers are exempt from the fee.
During Monday’s press conference, Lo underlined that the compulsory nucleic acid testing at the Pac On testing station for arrivals from the mainland without a valid nucleic acid test certificate “is of a different nature” to the test for those who have made an appointment, despite “the same testing technique”. Lo pointed out that this kind of traveller is taken to the Pac On testing station for the nucleic acid test merely due to “failing to meet Macau’s entry requirement”. Lo said that “consequently the government has to make a special arrangement for them to undergo the test at the Pac On ferry terminal, and the government does not recommend arrivals [from the mainland] to undergo a test in this way [by not obtaining a valid nucleic acid test certificate in advance before entering Macau]”.
‘Matter of fairness’
Lo pointed out that as a “matter of fairness”, those who have made an appointment will be given priority over the arrivals from the mainland without a valid nucleic acid test certificate to undergo their test at the Pac On testing station. Lo also said that, as this kind of traveller has not submitted their personal information by making an appointment before their compulsory tests at the testing station, they are required to obtain their nucleic acid test certificate at the public Conde S. Januário Hospital Centre, adding that “the whole process may take them several days” before they can obtain their test result at the public hospital.
Consequently, Lo said, the local government is urging arrivals from the mainland to undergo the nucleic acid test there and obtain a valid certificate before entering Macau, which he said was “beneficial” to the local government’s COVID-19 prevention and control work. Lo pointed out that there are “many” designated hospitals for the nucleic acid test in Zhuhai, which is convenient for those who cross the Macau-Zhuhai border checkpoints.
No new case in 40 days
Meanwhile, Lo also pointed out that Macau has not confirmed a new COVID-19 case for 40 consecutive days. Only one of Macau’s 45 COVID-19 patients was still undergoing isolation treatment yesterday, Lo said.
Macau had not confirmed any new COVID-19 case for 39 consecutive days between February 5 and March 14, after the “first wave” of COVID-19 which lasted from January 22 to February 4. Macau’s “second wave” of COVID-19 began on March 15 and lasted until April 8, when the 45th case was confirmed.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © Government Information Bureau (GCS)