Civil servants who work in non-emergency services are exempted from work this Thursday and Friday as part of measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Secretary for Administration and Justice, André Cheong Weng Chon, announced yesterday at the government’s daily press conference. The decision was made as Macau has seen seven cases of the infection since the start of the year.
The first confirmed case in Macau was on January 22 with a 52-year-old female patient from Wuhan, Hubei Province. The patient arrived in Macau on January 20 and stayed at the Landmark Hotel. She sought medical consultation at the S. Januário Hospital on the evening of January 21.
The patient had a fever upon her admittance into the hospital but her body temperature returned to normal levels after taking the prescribed medications. Before her medical consultation, she had been in close contact with two people who are still being monitored under quarantine.
January 23 saw the second case, which involves a 66-year-old Wuhan male who entered Macau the previous day through the Border Gate. His high body temperature was recorded at the border checkpoint and he was sent to the S. Januário Hospital immediately. He has not developed a fever, or respiratory or digestive symptoms. He was travelling with four family members, who are now also in under quarantine for observation.
Three cases were confirmed on January 26, making it the day with the most confirmed cases so far. All of them were imported cases from Wuhan. The patients are all female and aged 58, 39 and 21.
The eldest of these three took the ferry to Macau from Hong Kong before taking a taxi to Kiang Wu Hospital because she was feeling ill. She was then sent to the government hospital by ambulance.
The 39-year-old patient entered Macau through the Lotus Border on January 22 and was sent to the government hospital, also by ambulance. The last patient confirmed on the day, aged 21, works as a teacher in Wuhan, and entered Macau through the Lotus Border January 23.
The sixth confirmed case involved a 15-year-old young man travelling from Wuhan. He is a son of the aforementioned 39-year-old patient. On January 27, he was confirmed to have been infected after a positive test result, despite the fact that he had not developed a fever or respiratory symptoms. His father and younger brother had negative test results, but were also quarantined.
A 67-year-old female from Wuhan is the last confirmed case so far. She arrived in Macau through the Border Gate after travelling on the High Speed Rail and the Intercity Railway. She was admitted to the government hospital January 27.
To combat the situation, the government has issued a series of directives to help instruct members of the public on what should be done. Although civil servants have their Lunar New Year holidays extended, emergency services will not be affected, Cheong assured.
“Let’s put it this way: procedures apply as if it is any other weekend or public holiday,” the secretary explained. “There are stipulations as to what services will be provided and what will not.”
For example, services will not be provided by the public registry on those days, Cheong explained, meaning that bookings and document pick-up should be postponed to the next working day.
It is not clear whether non-emergency but important services will continue to operate. The secretary did not expressly reply to questions regarding, for example, the expiration of foreign labor working permits.
The secretary reminds his colleagues to stay at home and avoid crowded areas during the extra two-day holiday “because it was decided in consideration of disease prevention and control.”
Furthermore, the secretary, on behalf of the government, encourages private entities to follow suit “if the conditions allow.”
During the daily press conference, Secretary Cheong was notified that the Central Government in Beijing had announced the suspension of new applications for the Individual Travel Permit, including those needed to travel to Macau. The suspension started from yesterday. Permits obtained prior to then can still be used to travel to Macau, provided that they are still valid.
Tourists from Hubei Province have been gradually leaving Macau. As of 5 p.m. yesterday, there were 276 still remaining in Macau on various visas, revealed Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Ao Ieong U.