Arrivals surge causing airport NAT delay

An increase in demand caused by the influx of passengers arriving at the Macau International Airport is the reason for a delay in the processing of the necessary nucleic acid test (NAT) results before passengers are taken to quarantine hotels, the local coordinator of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Leong Iek Hou, explained yesterday during the daily briefing of the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center.

Leong said that a significant increase in the number of passengers per flight arriving in Macau from Singapore means the procedures are taking longer than usual, as there are not enough staff to meet the increased demand.

“We have been recording an increase in demand. Yesterday there were 78 passengers on the flight from Singapore. Since there are many more people, the procedures are taking longer,” Leong said. She explained that there are “three shifts of workers and, as they all need to be operating in closed loop mode, it is difficult to make significant changes to the shifts. We don’t have enough staff to [meet] this new demand, so people need to wait a little longer for the test results.”

Asked whether it is possible to replace the NAT on arrival with rapid antigen tests, Leong said authorities “don’t want to have something just because it is faster and that might [at the same time] compromise the whole of Macau. We are seeing if we can increase the number of workers on the closed loop shifts and also if there is a way to use digital [means] instead of paperwork to simplify some of the procedures. If we can use a digital tool to sign documents and other procedures, we might be able to shorten the waiting time,” she remarked.

Leong was also asked whether the new price of 50 patacas for paid NATs in general stations would affect NAT prices in quarantine hotels. She reiterated that it is not possible to lower the price due to the individualized procedure, door-to-door logistics and all the necessary equipment . She again highlighted how different the procedures for hotel tests are from the common NATs at general stations.

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