Local health authorities are paying close attention to the Omicron variant of Covid-19 but, for the time being, no changes to the prevention and control guidelines have been proposed, representative of the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center, Dr. Leong Iek Hou, said yesterday.
According to Leong, there is not yet enough information on the new variant – which has been detected recently in several countries – to prompt a review of the current measures.
“We are [treating this matter as one of] extreme importance […] So far the WHO has not clarified whether or not this new variant has a higher level of transmissibility compared to other variants. So, [at this point] we cannot be sure of [the risk it may pose by potentially being] more transmissible, nor whether it is more likely to cause death or serious health complications,” Leong said.
On a more positive note, Leong added that studies have shown that the new variant can be traced using the common methods for detecting Covid-19: namely the nucleic acid tests and the antibodies test.
“There is clear evidence that the tests currently in use can detect this variant. This is a positive side to look at in this case. We can effectively detect this variant and thus continue to pursue our greater task: namely to prevent imported cases to avoid an internal resurgence of the disease,” Leong explained.
As for the direct consequences of the outbreak of the variant Omicron, Leong noted that travellers from eight African countries are forbidden to enter Macau on commercial flights.
Leong also noted that the local health authorities are prepared, if necessary, to increase the frequency of the tests performed on those coming from high-risk areas, that is, those with a travel history which includes countries or regions that have reported outbreaks of the new variant.
New form of classifying Covid-19 cases
From December 1, asymptomatic cases and confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection will be classified separately.
Leong explained at the center’s press briefing that the new measure brings Macau’s statistical classifications in line with those used in the mainland, so that local data can be easily compared to data from different Chinese provinces and regions.
Questioned by the media, she explained that the change is effective on all data from December 1, though data collected previously remains unaffected.
As she explained, at issue is also the standardization of the criteria for classifying cases as asymptomatic or confirmed according to the different tests and symptoms different