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Tougher Covid-19 measures aim to detect virus early

Health chief makes it clear that NATs are the fastest way to identify Covid-19, and that vigilance is everybody’s responsibility.

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Health chief makes it clear that NATs are the fastest way to identify Covid-19, and that vigilance is everybody’s responsibility.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:42 am

Tougher screening measures rolled out yesterday by the Health Bureau (SSM) aim to detect Covid-19 cases as swiftly as possible.

Health chief Tai Wa Hou said that residents should be aware that the risk of Covid-19 infection is potentially anywhere in the local community and realise the importance of detecting those who have been infected with Covid-19 at an early stage.

Tai, who is a clinical director at the Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, noted that most of those who have been newly infected with Covid-19 only come down with mild symptoms at first, which could cause a widespread community transmission if each case is not detected early.

Tai added that one of the most effective ways to detect possible Covid-19 carriers is to arrange for them to take a nucleic acid test (NAT), which is why the new measures have been introduced. Tai set out a string of new guidelines, emphasising that residents should take the initiative to undergo a Covid-19 test.

Firstly, Tai said, those who suspect that they might have been infected with Covid-19 can book a free NAT via the Macao Health Code’s landing page. Tests take place at the Taipa Ferry Terminal in Pac On and the Macao Forum in Zape.

Secondly, those with a fever, any other respiratory symptoms, or reduced sense of smell or taste must report the situation on the Macao Health Code, which will then change their colour to yellow. They should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Thirdly, those who have come down with additional symptoms such as fatigue or diarrhoea should seek treatment at a hospital emergency department. In this case, Tai said, the doctor will change the Macao Health Code colour of the patients to yellow, and “immediately” arrange for them to undergo a NAT. Their health code colour will return to green after their negative NAT results are available.

Lastly, Tai said that if those with any of the symptoms choose to see a doctor at a private clinic, the doctor must report the situation to the SSM online, which will then turn the patient’s Macao Health Code yellow. The patient will then have to undergo a free Covid-19 test. Their health code colour will return to green after their negative NAT results are available.

Tai said that patients who consult a doctor at a private clinic would face different  Covid-19 testing arrangements.

According to Tai, those with only a low risk of infection should undergo a Covid-19 test within 24 hours of seeing the doctor at the private clinic. They can choose to book a test at Taipa Ferry Terminal or Macao Forum, or have a walk-in test at a hospital emergency department or designated health centre.  

Tai said that those with a moderate risk of infection should undergo a walk-in Covid-19 test “as soon as possible” at the emergency departments of the public hospital or Kiang Wu Hospital, the public hospital’s emergency service branch in Taipa or one of the four designated health centres. They can leave the testing sites after having their samples collected without the need to wait for their NAT results to become available.

Tai, said that those with a high risk of infection included anyone working in Covid-19 isolation wards, quarantine hotels or at the airport, those who have been in contact with travellers from Covid-19 high-risk areas, those whose job requires them to enter passenger transport vehicles (such as aeroplanes) arriving from Covid-19 high-risk areas, those who have been in contact with Covid-19 patients within the past 28 days, those who have stayed in places or been on passenger transport vehicles within the past 28 days where Covid-19 transmissions had occurred, those who have visited indoor venues within the past 28 days where Covid-19 patients had stayed, or those with serious respiratory symptoms.

Tai said that those with a high risk of infection should “immediately” undergo a Covid-19 test, in which case the private clinic must call an ambulance to take the patient to the special emergency ward of the Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre. The patient must wait for his or her NAT results to become available, so cannot leave the facility until their negative NAT results are available, reported The Macau Post Daily.

Tai urged residents to “cooperate” with the strengthened Covid-19 screening and testing measures during the still “critical” period.

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:42 am

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