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Search for Patient Zero continues as Covid-19 case numbers soar

Health workers intensify efforts to trace source of BA.5.1 Omicron variant as confirmed cases reach 941 – and likely to increase; Grand Lisboa Hotel locked down after 13 cases found.

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Health workers intensify efforts to trace source of BA.5.1 Omicron variant as confirmed cases reach 941 – and likely to increase; Grand Lisboa Hotel locked down after 13 cases found.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:43 am

Health workers in Macao are desperately trying to trace the origin of the highly contagious BA.5.1 Omicron variant which has gripped the city since 18 June, despatching thousands into quarantine and propelling case numbers to just short of 1,000.

“We are continuing to try to find the source of this pandemic. It’s very difficult to track down Patient Zero,” said Leong Iek Hou, who heads up the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre. “The positive numbers are going to continue to increase as further mass tests are conducted this week. 

“It is very important to use the KN95 mask because it is proven that it is a very efficient way to prevent infection … we will only decide on the next steps after the last rapid antigen tests (RAT) and nucleic acid tests (NAT) that will take place at the weekend. The results will allow us to move forward with new measures to stop the spread of the virus,” she explained.

Leong was speaking at the regular daily Covid-19 briefing – in the wake of the city’s latest mass-testing drive – which ended shortly after 6 pm with news that the Grand Lisboa Hotel was being locked down after 13 cases had been discovered on the premises.

Health officials have also focussed on three key groups –  the security service, cleaning service and property management industries – whose staff need to do NATs every day at least 12 hours apart between 6 and 9 July. Staff can book via the mass testing website and only need to do one NAT per day.

All the staff from the health services need to take a NAT every 24 hours.

During the mass-testing over the past two days, 608,444 persons undertook NATs, most of which proved negative, although there were 50 positive pooled mixed-samples. 

“If we find one pooled sample positive, let’s say 10+1, we’ll contact the 10 people directly and ask them to do a RAT at home right away,” said Leong

“If they test positive, we’ll ask their family members who live together to do a RAT as well. If all are positive, we will get our mobile sampling teams to send them all to Macau Dome hall A for treatment.” 

Across the city, there are now 28,826 people in medical observation hotels, and a further two clusters have been identified, bringing the total to 18. 

More than 13,000 cases are being followed up, and confirmed cases are approaching the watershed 1,000 mark. Among the 941 confirmed cases, 766 are Chinese (Macao residents and mainland Chinese), 52 Nepalese, 57 Filipino, 17 Vietnamese, 31 Myanmarese, and 11 Indonesian. The remainder are of various nationalities including Portuguese and Indian. Of the 89 most recently discovered cases, 66 were found in the community, while the remainder are under management. 

The next round of mass-testing starts on Wednesday at 9 am.

 

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:43 am

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