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Health workers mull ‘substitute measures’ for NAT recusant

Recusant will remain in quarantine for at least two weeks; police track down remaining four people who failed to get tested.

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Recusant will remain in quarantine for at least two weeks; police track down remaining four people who failed to get tested.

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PUBLISHED

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:42 am

Just one person out of Macao’s entire population of 682,500 is digging in their heels and refusing point blank to be tested for novel coronavirus. Police are still searching for four others who have yet to be tested.

Tai Wa Hou, a clinical director of the Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, said that the individual – whose gender, age, resident status and nationality have not been not revealed – has told the authorities that he or she would rather undergo 14 days of quarantine than get tested for Covid-19.

According to Tai, the recusant has not revealed the reason for continuing to refuse to be tested despite repeated explanations and persuasive attempts by health workers.

Tai said that the authorities cannot order those who refuse to undergo a Covid-19 nucleic acid test (NAT) to get tested because it involves a medical procedure.

The Health Bureau (SSM) said on Monday that 55 people in Macao who had failed to undergo a NAT during last week’s citywide programme had continued to refuse to be tested as of Monday afternoon – despite having repeatedly been asked by the bureau. The bureau said that if they had continued to refuse by Monday night, it would ask the police to locate them and take them to testing sites where they would have to get tested and stay there until their negative result has been confirmed.

Tai said that 16 out of the 55 initial recusants had finally undergone a Covid-19 test by Monday night, so police took action to locate the remaining 39 people yesterday.

As of yesterday afternoon, Tai said, the police had managed to locate 35 out of the 39 people. Tai said that 34 of the 35 people had agreed to get tested after being located by the police, but one had continued to refuse.

Tai said that yesterday afternoon the police were still trying to locate the remaining four people.

Tai said that the lone refuser was required to undergo 14 days of medical observation at a quarantine facility, to which he or she had agreed. “The person is going through official formalities for 14 days of medical observation,” Tai said.

The SSM said on Monday that those who continue to refuse to be tested for Covid-19 after being located by the police are required to sign a consent document confirming that they are willing to undergo 14 days of medical observation at a quarantine facility. If they refuse to sign the document, the bureau said on Monday, the authorities will impose “mandatory quarantine” on them.

Tai said that the recusant had not elaborated on the reason for refusing to be tested for Covid-19. Nevertheless, Tai said, the person has clearly told the authorities that he or she would rather go into 14 days of quarantine than undergo a NAT.

Tai added that all quarantinees are required to undergo a number of NATs during their medical observation period. Concerning the refuser, Tai said, SSM staff will continue trying to persuade him or her to be tested for Covid-19 during the quarantine period.

According to Tai, the SSM will ask the recusant whether he or she is refusing to be tested because he or she does not want to have a sample collected via a nasal or throat  swab. If the person continues to refuse to undergo a NAT , the bureau will ask whether he or she would agree to submit  a blood sample.

Tai said that if the person also refuses to undergo an antibody test, the bureau would study the possible implementation of certain “substitute” measures, such as extending the length of his or her quarantine period.

The government’s three-day mass NAT drive started at 9 am on Wednesday last week after Macao confirmed four Covid-19 Delta variant cases, a couple and their two children, a schoolboy and a schoolgirl. It was Macao’s first citywide disease testing in its history.

A total of 614,465 people were tested for Covid-19 during the 72-hour citywide NAT drive, which ended at 9 am on Saturday last week. 

Additionally, 101,786 people were tested outside the programme between Tuesday and Saturday last week. The results of all 716,251 were confirmed as being negative.

Those who failed to undergo the free test before 9 am on Saturday were required to undergo a paid test at the city’s five regular NAT stations before 9 pm that day, otherwise their Macao Health Code colour would become yellow, reported The Macau Post Daily.

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:42 am

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