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Infection rate among returnees is just 0.84%

The COVID-19 infection rate of those returning to Macau from overseas has so far been only 0.84%.

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Addressing Thursday’s daily press conference about Macau’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, Alvis Lo Iek Long, a clinical director of the public Conde de S. Januário Hospital Centre, said that the COVID-19 infection rate of those returning to Macau from overseas has so far been only 0.84 per cent.

Macau has so far confirmed 41 COVID-19 cases. Macau’s 10 “first wave” patients – comprising seven tourists from Wuhan and three locals – have been discharged. All 31 patients in the “second wave” – which began on March 15 – are still undergoing treatment. All the 31 cases in the current “second wave” have been classified as imported, most of them local students returning from overseas.

Macau’s “first wave” of the COVID-19 infection lasted from January 22 to February 4.

Lo pointed out on Thursday that most of the 31 patients in Macau’s “second wave” of the COVID-19 pandemic are overseas returnees.

“If we make a calculation by using the number of confirmed [COVID-19] cases in the second wave, 31, as the numerator of a fraction and using the number of all those who have been required to undergo medical observation [upon their arrival in Macau], 3,694, as the denominator of the fraction, it shows that the infection rate has so far been 0.84 percent,” Lo said.

Lo pointed out that, as a number of those who have returned to Macau are still undergoing their 14-day medical observation, more new COVID-19 cases would possibly be confirmed in the run-up to the termination of their quarantine. Lo was quick to add he believed that the final infection rate following the termination of their quarantine would not be very different from the current infection rate of 0.84 per cent.

38 more in quarantine

During Thursday’s press conference at the Health Bureau (SSM) adjacent to the public hospital, SSM Control of Communicable Diseases and Surveillance of Diseases Department Coordinator Leong Iek Hou said that 38 more people went into 14 days of quarantine and medical observation on Wednesday – comprising 33 Macau residents and five non-Macau residents. Leong said that 19 of the 38 people are students.

Leong said that until Wednesday, a total of 3,694 people have been required to go into 14 days of quarantine and medical observation since the local government imposed various levels of quarantine measures from February.

Leong said that on Wednesday, 2,317 people were still undergoing their 14 days of quarantine and medical observation – three in home quarantine, 2,292 in hotel quarantine and 22 in the Health Bureau’s facilities as they were showing COVID-19 symptoms.

During Thursday’s press conference, Inês Chan Lou, who heads the Licensing and Inspection Department of the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO), said that as of yesterday afternoon, 2,419 people were under 14 days of medical observation in the government’s 12 “quarantine hotels” – comprising 2,197 Macau residents, 185 non-resident workers and 37 visitors.

Leong pointed out during last Saturday’s daily press conference that as all the arrivals returning from overseas have been required to undergo their 14 days of quarantine and medical observation at the government’s designated hotels since March 19, no one has gone into home quarantine since then.

Consequently, the last batch of people undergoing home quarantine was slated to complete their 14-day medical observation on Wednesday (April 1), Leong said last Saturday. However, Leong said during Wednesday’s daily press conference that five people slated to complete their 14-day medical observation on that day were not allowed to complete their medical observation because they had still not submitted samples to the health authorities for a COVID-19 test. Leong said that the five people had failed to submit samples on time “due to various reasons”.

Leong said during Thursday evening’s press conference that three people undergoing home quarantine – among the five people whom she mentioned on Wednesday – had still not submitted samples for their COVID-19 test. Leong said that the three people had promised to submit their samples later on Thursday (after the press conference which finished at around 6 p.m.) or today. Leong underlined that they would have to remain under home quarantine until testing negative for the novel coronavirus twice.

Leong also explained on Thursday why some non-resident workers had been allowed to undergo their quarantine and medical observation at their home in Macau instead of in one of the city’s quarantine hotels. Leong said that all arrivals returning from middle-risk foreign countries – regardless of local resident and non-resident worker status – on March 17 and 18 were allowed to opt for home quarantine.

All those returning from overseas have been required to undergo their 14 days of quarantine and medical observation at “quarantine hotels” since March 19.

High-risk foreign countries classified by the local government – a classification which was only applicable on March 17 and 18 – referred to Schengen Area countries, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Iran, Ireland, Japan, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, while middle-risk foreign countries classified by the local government referred to Southeast Asian countries and all other foreign countries.

Leong pointed out that after two non-resident workers from the Philippines were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease last week – Macau’s 32nd and 33rd COVID-19 cases – the local government reassessed the conditions of the residential units of all non-resident workers who were in home quarantine, after which all non-residents workers then still in home quarantine were transferred to quarantine hotels to continue their medical observation there.

‘No need for more quarantine hotels’

Meanwhile, Chan pointed out that for the time being, the government does not need to look for additional quarantine hotels, as the number of rooms in the 12 quarantine hotels is sufficient. Chan underlined that those who returned to Macau in the middle of last month are about to complete their 14-day quarantine so that their rooms will become available for others.

The 12 hotels comprise around 3,000 quarantine rooms.

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

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