Halfway through three mass Covid-19 testing drives this week, and with more than 1,100 confirmed cases and 17 areas in the city locked down, Macao is bracing itself to cope with even tougher anti-virus measures.
During the daily novel coronavirus briefing, Unitary Police Service public relations officer Cheong Kin Ian warned:
“We do not put aside the possibility of more rigorous measures. If we decide to have more rigorous measures we will communicate to all the people in Macao in due time.”
Cheong issued his grim warning after another day of turmoil in Macao. More than 500 people are locked down in the Grand Lisboa Hotel, one of the icons of the entertainment industry. One Central Macau, one of the city’s premier retail malls, has been closed after several security guards were infected. The Shoppes at Four Seasons has suffered a similar fate. More than 3,500 patients are confined to medical observation hotels. And 81 new preliminary positive cases had been detected by 4 pm, bringing Macao’s current tally to 1,168.
Leong Iek Hou, who heads up the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre, suggested that in an effort to contain the virus employers could accommodate their helpers in their homes rather than letting them stay elsewhere.
“Many of the confirmed cases have involved cleaners, security guards and property management workers and most of them live with their workmates or friends or in the same dormitory and they all got infected in a crowded living environment,” she said.
Looking at the BA.5.1 Omicron variant outbreak – which flared up on 18 June – as a whole, Leong said that the Health Bureau would consider what action to take once all the results of this week’s mass-testing had been assessed.
The Health Bureau’s Lei Wai Deng commented: “If existing places for Covid-19 patients are getting overloaded, we will activate the makeshift hospital and clear all the general wards in Hospital Centre S. Januario. Around 900 confirmed cases are in hotels receiving treatment at present. Between 80 and 90 per cent of the patients who test positive are asymptomatic and they only need basic services. Symptomatic patients are sent to closed areas in Alto de Coloane health installations.”
Macao’s second mass-testing drive continues, and the third will end on Saturday at 6 pm.