Addressing Monday’s regular press conference by the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre, the Health Bureau’s (SSM) Control of Communicable Diseases and Surveillance of Diseases Department Coordinator Leong Iek Hou announced that the Macao government has toughened its Covid-19 measures for all arrivals who have been in Xinjiang or Liaoning within 14 days prior to their entry into Macao, in response to the latest development of the Covid-19 epidemic in the north-western autonomous region and north-eastern province.
According to data from the National Health Commission (NHC), the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has confirmed new local Covid-19 cases every day since around the middle of this month, while Liaoning province has recorded new local cases every day since Wednesday last week. The number of new local Covid-19 cases confirmed daily in both areas has been increasing during the period, according to NHC data.
When asked during Monday’s press conference whether the Macao government will implement additional Covid-19 measures for arrivals from Xinjiang and Liaoning, Leong said that the Macao Health Bureau has been closely assessing the development of the two areas’ COVID-19 epidemic and maintaining close communication with the National Health Commission on the matter.
Leong said that the Macao government has classified Xinjiang and Liaoning as “medium-risk” areas, adding that therefore upon arrival in Macao the Macao Health Code of travellers who have been in Xinjiang or Liaoning within the past 14 days will now indicate yellow.
Upon arrival in Macao, Health Bureau officials will particularly assess the travellers’ health status, such as checking whether they have any Covid-19 symptoms and asking them whether they have been in contact with confirmed Covid-19 patients in the two areas, Leong said, adding that those who have any of the two conditions will be transferred to the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre for further medical examination and a Covid-19 test.
Leong also said that the Macao government now has stricter requirements for the nucleic acid test (NAT) certificates to be presented by arrivals from Xinjiang and Liaoning. Those who present a NAT certificate which shows that they tested negative for Covid-19 over the previous 72 hours will be immediately taken to the public hospital for a Covid-19 follow-up test, Leong said, adding that they will only be discharged after their negative test results are available.
While arrivals from the mainland do not need to go into quarantine in Macao upon their arrival here, they have to present a NAT certificate confirming that they have tested negative for Covid-19 within the past seven days. Arrivals from elsewhere – namely Hong Kong, Taiwan and foreign countries – must undergo 14 days of quarantine and medical observation at one of the government’s “quarantine hotels” upon their arrival here. Besides, all those arriving in Macao from Hong Kong must present a NAT certificate confirming that they have tested negative for Covid-19 within the past seven days – otherwise they will be refused entry, after which they will still have to undergo the 14-day hotel quarantine here.
‘Self-health management’ required
Leong also said that Health Bureau officials will call arrivals from Xinjiang and Liaoning every other day to understand their latest health status during their stay in Macao. The bureau will also require them to properly practise “self-health management”, such as always wearing a facemask when out and about and avoiding crowds.
When asked about the exact date when the tightened Covid-19 measures for arrivals from the Xinjiang and Liaoning started, Leong revealed that the Macao government started the new measures for arrivals from Xinjiang “shortly after the Covid-19 epidemic emerged” in the autonomous region, while the measures for arrivals from Liaoning started at noon Monday. Leong did not say when exactly the measures for arrivals from Xinjiang started.
Leong also said that no travellers from Xinjiang and Liaoning have entered Macao since the respective measures by the Macao government took effect.
Meanwhile, Leong also said that the Macao Health Bureau has determined that for the time being the 14-day hotel quarantine measure and the seven-day NAT certificate measure for arrivals from Hong Kong are deemed sufficient to protect Macao from the Covid-19 risk. She was quick to add that the Macao government’s Covid-19 measures for arrivals from Hong Kong “may be adjusted” in line with the latest developments in Hong Kong’s Covid-19 epidemic.
30 HK-Macao cargo ship crew members exempted from quarantine
Meanwhile, Leong said that no more than 30 Macao residents who are crew members of cargo ships plying the Hong Kong-Macao route are currently exempted from the Macao government’s quarantine measure.
Leong underlined that nevertheless, the Health Bureau has imposed strict requirements on these crew members, according to which they are not allowed to go ashore when their vessels are in Hong Kong. Goods in Hong Kong are only loaded on to the ships by mechanical devices, the ships then transport the goods to Macao, Leong said, adding that Hong Kong people are not permitted to board the Macao-bound ships.
Leong pointed out that the crew members have to be tested for Covid-19 every seven days.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)