Yesterday’s implementation of stricter guidelines, enforcing more rigorous health code checking in most establishments, including hotels, restaurants and food and beverage establishments, bars and similar venues as well as on public transport, has caused disruption citywide.
According to media reports, elderly and young children who do not have access to mobile devices or have difficulty in using them were among the most affected, especially in access to public buses.
Authorities called on bus companies and taxi drivers to check that all passengers were in possession of a green health code, resulting in disputes between passengers and drivers concerning boarding.
Questioned on the matter at the daily Covid-19 briefing from the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center, coordinator Leong Iek Hou said that current regulations state that drivers “can refuse the transportation of people holding yellow health codes, but that does not mean that they are forced to check every passenger,” she said, adding, “Maybe they can just check a few passengers in cases they [judge] necessary.”
According to Leong, the same rule applies to taxi drivers.
Leong added that this measure is not new and aims to strengthen compliance with Covid-19 prevention guidelines in light of the outbreaks in neighboring cities, namely Guangzhou and Foshan.
There were questions on how people without mobile devices and consequently without health codes may gain access to essential facilities like food and beverage stores and public transport.
In response, Leong advised people to obtain a new health code first thing in the morning, before going out of the house, adding that elderly people and children can also print a code from the online platform and then carry it all day.
Questioned on the validity period of the health code, Leong explained that the six-hour validity period, which is automatically generated when a health code is requested, applies only to entry and exit from Macau, and relates to health code regulations in Guangdong province. “For all other purposes and internal uses like access to public venues and transportation, each code is valid [for the whole] day on which it was granted,” she remarked.
Questioned on the situations in which people may receive a yellow health code, such as after leaving quarantine venues to take seven days of self-health management, she remarked, “These people are not allowed on public [transport] and [in] these cases, people need to find a private car to transport them home.”
The same also applies in cases where people have red codes, and must find a “private way” to travel to a hospital or other health facility which they must attend.
“Only in extreme cases, people should call for an ambulance for this transportation. We cannot promote the usage of these emergency vehicles,” she stated.
According to several reports from the public, and following some disputes during the morning period, the drivers have stopped requesting health codes from passengers during the afternoon and evening.
Furthermore, several problems were reported yesterday morning concerning access to the health code platform, with citizens unable to obtain a code.
Questioned on the matter, Leong acknowledged the issue, although she explained that the problem was not with the Macau health code, but with the database allowing the transfer of health code data between Macau and Guangdong province. According to the health official, the issue was resolved in about an hour by disconnecting the Macau system from the mainland, allowing residents to obtain the code locally.
Leong said that issues were minimized through an emergency procedure in which citizens were asked three questions regarding their travel history and contacts with Covid-19 patients.
“This is a temporary measure to allow the entry of people who cannot get the code due to a malfunction [in] the system, this was done [yesterday] morning and it’s possible,” she concluded.
Gov’t may launch digital tracing app for pandemic control
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it may launch a digital tracing app similar to Hong Kong government’s “LeaveHomeSafe” app in yesterday’s Covid-19 briefing.
Leong said that the app has not yet been named, and that they are still discussing and refining it with the technical team, including a potential feature to combine the health code with the citizen’s activities log and the ability to help different venues quickly generate their own QR codes. A launch date has not yet been set, but she added that if the pandemic ever returns to Macau, the application will be launched urgently.
Three locals identified as close contacts with a confirmed case in GZ
Three Macau residents, who had close contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case in Guangzhou, have been observing mandatory quarantine, the government announced yesterday night.
According to the information, a 27-year-old female, her husband and son were considered as close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case as they were taking the same train with the patient in Guangzhou on June 4.
The family returned to Macau on June 7 via Hengqin port. They had not been to other places except workplaces and their home after their return.
The three individuals tested negative on June 9 and have been observing mandatory quarantine. The SAR government stated that the family bears only low contagion risks to the community.
Macau registered 52nd imported case
Macau registered its 52nd imported case yesterday night. The patient is a 21-year-old male who studied in Taiwan and returned to Macau on May 30. He was tested positive on June 9 whilst he was still observing mandatory quarantine in the Golden Crown China Hotel. He has been admitted to the Hospital Centre S. Januario for further check-up.