But local officials say probability of local infection ‘extremely low’
Addressing Monday’s press conference about Macao’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the Health Bureau’s (SSM) Control of Communicable Diseases and Surveillance of Diseases Department Coordinator Leong Iek Hou confirmed that a Filipina who flew from Macao to Manila on 18 June tested positive for the novel coronavirus disease in the Philippines, adding the bureau believed that the woman was infected with COVID-19 in her home country rather than in Macao.
Philippine media reports late last week said that the 29-year-old woman is pregnant.
Leong revealed the matter when replying to a question by a reporter from a local Portuguese media outlet who asked about the case. Leong said that after her bureau saw a report about the case on Sunday in a local media report, it contacted the Philippine health authorities by email asking them details of the case.
According to Leong, the health authorities in Manila replied to the Macao Health Bureau on Sunday night, saying that they did not have the details of the case and would ask the health authorities in Davao – where the woman tested positive for the disease – about the details. The Philippines authorities pledged to provide their local counterparts with follow-up information on the case.
Leong said that the Health Bureau had only scarce information about the Filipina’s travel history following her return home from Philippine news reports.
Leong said that according to the Philippine media reports, the Filipina took a flight from Macao on 18 June to Manila, where she stayed in a hotel until 22 June, when she flew from the country’s capital to Davao, where she started to undergo quarantine. Health officials there took a sample from her on 29 June for a COVID-19 test, and on Thursday she was diagnosed as having been infected with the novel coronavirus.
Leong pointed out that many imported COVID-19 cases that have been confirmed in Hong Kong and the mainland have been from the Philippines, showing that the COVID-19 epidemic situation in the Southeast Asian country is still serious. Leong said that after considering the time when the Filipina started to show COVID-19 symptoms and the COVID-19 situation in Macao and the Philippines, the Health Bureau believes that the Filipina was infected with the disease in her home country. Leong also pointed out that a Philippine national holding a Macao ID card who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to Macao late last month had contracted the disease in his home country.
Leong said that once her bureau is able to contact the Filipina it would ask her about her travel history in Macao before returning to her home country, and follow up on the health status of the people in Macao with whom she had been in touch, or arrange for them to be tested for COVID-19.
The Manila Bulletin newspaper reported on Friday that the woman was among passengers on Philippine Airlines flight PR353 who arrived in Manila at 4:15 pm on 18 June. The report quoted the mayor of Maragusan, Maricel Colina-Vendiola, as saying that the woman stayed at the Citadines Hotel in Ortigas, Manila, from 18 June to 21 June, then arrived in Davao City on 22 June. Colina-Vendiola also said that the patient arrived in Maragusan from Francisco Bangoy International Airport by car in the afternoon of 22 June. Upon her arrival, according to the report, the woman was immediately referred to the Barangay Isolation Unit in Barangay Tigbao.
The mayor was quoted as saying that the woman underwent swab testing on 29 June at the Davao de Oro Provincial Hospital-Maragusan, and the results came out positive with COVID-19 on Thursday.
The mayor also said that the woman was asymptomatic.
During Monday’s press conference, Alvis Lo Iek Long, a clinical director of the public Conde S. Januário Hospital Centre, said that the probability of the Filipina having been infected with COVID-19 in Macao was “extremely low”.
Lo said that the Philippines has cumulatively confirmed over 40,000 COVID-19 cases, and over 2,000 new cases have been confirmed there per day recently. “Don’t forget, this is merely the number of confirmed cases, and we understand that the number of cases in reality may have been underestimated there due to various reasons, such as not having a strong COVID-19 testing capability,” Lo said, adding that the Health Bureau believes that the COVID-19 epidemic in the Philippines is more serious than the number of its officially confirmed cases suggests.
No local case for 99 days
Lo pointed out that Macao has not confirmed a new local COVID-19 case for 99 consecutive days. Lo said that therefore the Macao Health Bureau has concluded that the probability of the Filipina having been infected in her home country was “much higher” than in Macao.
Lo also pointed out that the longest incubation period of the novel coronavirus disease is normally 14 days, but international statistics show that in most of the cases the incubation period is between two and seven days – five days on average. Lo pointed out that the Filipina left Macao in mid-June.
Lo said that based on all these factors, the Health Bureau has concluded the probability that the Filipina contracted the disease in Macao was “extremely low”.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
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