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Next up: everyone in Macao to test for Covid-19 four more times by 18 July

Health chief stresses benefits of mass testing, points to fewer cases; ‘if we reach zero cases we can return to our normal life’.

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Health chief stresses benefits of mass testing, points to fewer cases; ‘if we reach zero cases we can return to our normal life’.

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PUBLISHED

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:42 am

Macao will have to bear the brunt of four Covid-19 mass-testing drives over the coming week, with the first starting this Sunday.

Each will extend over two days, running from 9 am on the first day to 6 pm on the second (caring stations open at 6 am) and targeting the entire population in a determined bid to stamp out the BA.5.1 Omicron variant which seized hold of the city on 18 June, afflicting all walks of life and every age group, from a babe-in-arms to a centenarian.

Workers from 30 Health Services teams will hand out 10 KN95 masks and five rapid antigen test (RAT) kits on alternate days at mass-testing venues.

Speaking at the daily novel coronavirus briefing, Director of Health Bureau Alvis Lo Iek Long said that mass-testing combined with the use of RATs was the fastest way to find people who had been infected with Covid-19.

To date, Macao has recorded 1,303 cases of which 822 are asymptomatic and 481 are symptomatic. 

Fourteen patients have been released from hospital in the past 24 hours after being treated successfully. According to the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre, confirmed Covid-19 patients are subject to isolation for at least seven days (whether or not they are symptomatic). If after two successive NATs (conducted 24 hours apart), their Cycle Threshold (CT) value is ≧ 35, then they will be released.

In most cases, it has taken around 10 days for Covid-19 positive persons to fulfil this criteria. 

Health workers are fully engaged following up on 17,829 cases, and nearly 5,000 people are confined to medical observation hotels.

“Thanks to RATs and nucleic acid tests, we are noticing a decline in the number of cases, 41 compared to 94 in the fourth round of testing,” said Lo.

“The trend is definitely improving.”

Lo said that the main aim is to reach zero cases in the community, and control the 22 Red Code Zones and high risk patients in order to guarantee the end of the epidemic.

“If we reach zero cases we can return to our normal life. We need to continue with RATs and NATs and reduce movements and contacts in the city and continue to use masks at all times.

“We cannot say if we have reached the peak of the epidemic or when we will do so, because the situation is very volatile and changes suddenly because the propagation of Omicron is very fast. 

“What we are doing is working to reach zero cases.”

Lo said that while Shanghai had to endure a two-month lockdown to deal with the Covid-19 BA.2 variant, Macao was confronted with the BA.5 variant. “We don’t have any experience of it and we can’t see that there is a multifunctional key to deal with the situation,” he said. 

“We don’t see the need for a complete lockdown. Our capacity to face a complete lockdown and its consequences for those in need will create a worse situation for Macao and its residents.

“The present measures aim to reach zero cases. Not enforcing a complete lockdown is not a failure. It’s the best solution for Macao. We are optimistic that with these measures we will control the pandemic and will hit zero cases. But if we don’t do the mass tests it will be impossible to control the epidemic.

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:42 am

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