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Fisherfolks, people in old-age homes, jail & hospital to be tested for COVID-19

The government will carry out COVID-19 tests on residents of retirement homes, local prison inmates and hospital patients as well as all related staff, as part of its measures in preparation for the gradual return to normal life.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:44 am

Addressing Tuesday evening’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, announced that the government will carry out COVID-19 tests on residents of retirement homes, local prison inmates and hospital patients, as well as all related staff, as part of its measures in preparation for the gradual return to normal life.

According to Lo, the government will also arrange for fisherfolks and staff of the city’s social service facilities to be tested for the novel coronavirus.

Macau has three main hospitals, namely the public Conde S. Januário Hospital Centre and the private Kiang Wu Hospital on the peninsula, as well as the University Hospital on the campus of the Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST) in Taipa.

Macau’s only prison is located in Coloane.

Meanwhile, Lo also said that 1,388 secondary school teachers and other staff members underwent their COVID-19 tests on Monday – the first day of the government’s four-day nucleic acid tests for the about 5,000 secondary school teachers and other staff members who live in Macau. Lo said that all tested negative for the novel coronavirus, adding that yesterday’s sampling and testing was carried out “very smoothly”.

The Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ) announced on Saturday that all secondary school teachers, as well as all pupils commuting between Macau and Zhuhai, must undergo a COVID-19 test, in preparation for the resumption of classes in senior (F4 to F6) and junior secondary schools (F1 to F3) on May 4 (next Monday) and May 11 respectively.

According to Saturday’s announcement, teachers and other secondary school staff members who live in Macau will undergo the nucleic acid test once, while local teachers and pupils commuting between Macau and Zhuhai will have to undergo the test every seven days.

According to Saturday’s announcement, the free tests are slated to be completed tomorrow.

According to Saturday’s announcement, the first COVID-19 tests for secondary school teachers and F4 to F6 pupils commuting between Macau and Zhuhai are slated to be carried out from today to Friday, while F1 to F3 pupils commuting between the two cities are slated to undergo their first tests from May 7 to 9.

Secondary school teachers and other staff members who live in Macau will undergo their tests at the former premises of the Paediatric Joint Assessment Centre in the public hospital, while local teachers and pupils who live in Zhuhai will undergo their tests at designated hospitals there, according to Saturday’s announcement.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Lo pledged that the government will carry out a string of measures in preparation for the gradual restoration of normality in the community. Firstly, the government will further enhance its COVID-19 testing capability, Lo said. Secondly, the government will gradually extend its nucleic acid testing to a number of “important” groups of people, including residents in retirement homes, prison inmates and hospital patients and all related staff, as well as fisherfolks who have returned to Macau in the run-up to this year’s annual fishing moratorium in the South China Sea – which will start on Friday – and staff working in social service facilities.

Lo said that the government does not have a timetable as to when it will complete the COVID-19 testing on these groups of people. Lo said that the government “is not in a hurry” to carry out the tests, adding that the testing aimed to enable the government to know the possible COVID-19 infection rate among the respective groups of people, before the government could decide whether it will extend the testing to other segments of the population.

Fisherfolks caught in COVID-19 testing net

The Marine and Water Bureau (DSAMA) announced in a statement on Tuesday afternoon that fisherfolks who return to Macau from 00:00 today have to go into 14 days of quarantine and medical observation on their fishing vessels or in a designated hotel. The fisherfolks who have previously returned to Macau are not subject to the 14-day quarantine but will have to undergo a nucleic acid test.

This year, the annual commercial fishing ban in the South China Sea starts on Friday and will last until August 16 – a 3.5-month moratorium.

The statement noted that more and more Macau fishing vessels will return to the Inner Harbour to stay there during the moratorium. The statement said that after considering that some fisherfolks have possibly been infected with the novel coronavirus disease before their return to Macau, the local government has decided to implement the quarantine and COVID-19 testing measure on them so as to reduce the risk of importing the disease into Macau.

Currently two “quarantine hotels” still remain in operation, namely the 298-room Pousada Marina Infante in Cotai and the 300-room Golden Crown China Hotel opposite the airport in Taipa. Those undergoing their 14 days of quarantine and medical observation at the government’s “quarantine hotels” must undergo nucleic acid testing.

170 fishing vessels

During Tuesday’s press conference, the Health Bureau’s (SSM) Control of Communicable Diseases and Surveillance of Diseases Department Coordinator Leong Iek Hou said that according to the data provided by the Marine and Water Bureau, about 170 Macau fishing vessels on average return to the Inner Harbour to stay there every year during the annual fishing ban. Leong said that normally one or two Macau residents are staying on each vessel anchored in the Inner Harbour during the fishing ban period. Leong said that the exact number of fisherfolks who have returned or will return to Macau this year remained to be seen because some of them may choose to anchor their vessels in mainland ports instead of Macau.

Leong said that as at least one person must stay on his or her fishing vessel when it is anchored in the Inner Harbour in case of having to deal with an emergency, her bureau allows fisherfolks to undergo their 14 days of quarantine and medical observation on their vessels instead of in one of the government’s “quarantine hotels”. Leong said that fisherfolks could choose to undergo the 14-day medical observation in a “quarantine hotel” if they want, provided that at least one person stays on the fishing vessel. She noted that Macau residents do not need to pay for their stay at a “quarantine hotel.”

One more discharged, only 12 still in hospital

Meanwhile, Lo announced the discharge of Macau’s 42nd COVID-19 patient on Tuesday, a 58-year-old local man who returned from Hong Kong last month, taking the number of those no longer requiring hospitalisation to 33 among Macau’s total of 45 COVID-19 cases.

According to Lo, the man met the official criteria for a COVID-19 patient to be discharged after 26 days treatment in the isolation ward. He was transferred to the Health Bureau’s Public Health Clinical Centre in Coloane yesterday for 14 days of recovery period isolation.

Following Tuesday’s discharge of the patient, just 12 COVID-19 patients remain hospitalised. Only one of the patients still in hospital had previously been in a serious condition.

According to Lo, the man discharged on Tuesday had travelled to Hong Kong from Thailand on March 16. Since then, he had been staying in his office, which is also his home, in Hong Kong without going out much, before returning to Macau on March 30. Afterwards, he went into 14 days of quarantine and medical observation at a designated hotel, before testing positive for COVID-19 on April 3.

Macau has so far confirmed 45 COVID-19 cases. The 10 patients (seven tourists from Wuhan and three locals) in Macau’s “first wave” of the COVID-19 infection – which lasted from January 22 to February 4 – have been discharged, while 23 of the 35 patients in the “second wave” – which began on March 15 – have been discharged this month. Among Macau’s 45 COVID-19 cases, 43 have been classified as imported, while two have been classified as “cases related to imported cases”.

Meanwhile, Lo said that those undergoing their 14 days of recovery period isolation at the Coloane Public Health Clinical Centre have to undergo two COVID-19 tests on the 7th and 13th days of their recovery period. Lo said that the discharged Filipino who tested positive twice during his recovery period isolation – the case which was announced on Monday – tested negative on his first test on the 7th day, but tested positive on the 13th day of his recovery period, adding that therefore the staff had decided to carry out a test on him on the last day (Sunday) of his recovery period, when he also tested positive.

According to Monday’s announcement, the patient’s recovery period at the centre has therefore been extended until he tests negative for the disease twice consecutively.

(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © Government Information Bureau (GCS)

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:44 am

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