Skip to content
Menu

Highly contagious Omicron BA.5.1 variant threatens Macao

Health workers race against time to trace sources of Covid-19 outbreak as third mass-testing ends; despite lack of specific laws, residents warned to stay home and wear masks when outdoors.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

Health workers race against time to trace sources of Covid-19 outbreak as third mass-testing ends; despite lack of specific laws, residents warned to stay home and wear masks when outdoors.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:44 am

Macao has completed its third mass-testing drive as of 6 pm today. As of 12 am 28 June, there were 414 cases of which 309 were asymptomatic and 105 were symptomatic. More females (243) have been affected by the outbreak than males (171). All cases are the highly contagious BA.5.1 Omicron variant. 

Leong Iek Hou, who heads the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Division, said the Health Bureau has still not been able to trace the origin of some cases, and community transmission is still occurring, adding that the bureau needed time to find the links between different cases.

Leong noted that there are no laws that force the use of masks or restrict movements outside home while stressing that this virus is the variant Omicron BA.5, which is very contagious. “We only can request and appeal to the population to do their best and always use a mask and stay home so we can reduce the danger of transmission and allow us to combat the virus.” 

Officials are waiting for the final mass testing results before deciding whether the city will need to embark on a fourth round. As of 3 pm today, 602,966 nucleic acid test samples had been collected of which 306,397 tested negative for Covid-19; 21 pooled “10+1” samples came back positive. 

Since the launch of the third citywide testing, about 651,000 people have uploaded the results of their rapid antigen test (RAT). Among them, 36 were positive for Covid-19. 

Health workers have identified an 11th Covid-19 cluster, containing seven people, which is related to the Yim Lai Building cluster. The number of locked-down Red Code zones has increased to 16, while there are 70 Yellow Code zones. 

The mobile NAT bus which is currently reaching out to residents in Coloane has met with an enthusiastic response and is likely to be deployed to Yellow Code zones tomorrow.

The 60-year-old woman who yesterday was reported to be seriously ill with pneumonia is now in a stable condition. As of 3 pm today, a total of 9,256 people are under follow up, including 414 confirmed cases, 1,332 close contacts, 6,216 with overlapping itineraries, 353 secondary close contacts, 295 general contacts, and 446 accompanying persons.

In a move designed to protect Macao’s senior citizens, closed-circuit services are being implemented at all old people’s homes in Macao, so staff will not need to leave their place of work. Leong said this was a safety precaution as otherwise staff might unintentionally pass the virus to some of the 3,000 or so residents.

At present, 3,121 people are under medical observation in Macao, 2,604 in regular hotels, and 517 in quarantine hotels. Leong said that the makeshift hospital at the East Asian Games Dome has not been activated yet though some installations are being used for tests for those who are deemed high risk. It is also used to check those who are confirmed positive cases but no one is hospitalised at the Dome.  

In related news, the government has denied claims that it will restrict the number of shoppers allowed to enter supermarkets at any one time.     

Visitor numbers are still practically at a standstill, with 900 arrivals and 1,000 departures recorded yesterday.

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:44 am

Send this to a friend