Firmer requirements introduced by local health authorities yesterday for those intending to fly into Macau will not result in any changes to the length of the quarantine period on arrival at this time, Dr. Leong Iek Hou, coordinator of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, clarified in response to a media inquiry.
The new requirements stipulate that all travelers 12 years old and older from high-risk areas must present a valid vaccination certificate confirming they have had two doses of a vaccine against Covid-19 at least 14 days prior to traveling to Macau. They must also present three negative nucleic acid test certificates, all completed in the seven days before boarding a plane. According to Leong, there is not sufficient cause to reduce quarantine times at present.
Currently, most arrivals are required to quarantine for 21 days under medical observation, and in some cases another seven days of health self-management at home are mandated.
“This measure is designed to act as a disincentive to people wanting to travel to Macau from a high-risk area, [which risks starting] a local contagion. This [will ensure] the safety of this process, and so, at this moment, we have no cause to reduce quarantine time,” Leong said.
Leong was also asked about the decision made by some countries, namely New Zealand, to abandon a “zero cases” policy, instead adopting new rules designed to control disease spread without lockdowns each time a new case is found in the community.
Leong responded that “we have been researching this matter, about when we can live with the virus. For this [to happen] we need to guarantee that there are no chances of serious infections in the community, and that the number of cases that might arise is relatively low.”
We cannot accept [finding ourselves in] a situation that could result in high mortality [rates], especially among the elderly,” she added.
She went on to note that “these countries and regions that are adopting this method of living with the virus have vaccination rates of over 80% of the whole population, or at least a very high vaccination rate among the elderly. Our [vaccination] rate needs to be this high [over 80%] before we can think about this.”
The new rules for traveling to Macau came into effect at midnight yesterday (October 7) and apply to those traveling from countries including the Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, and South Africa.
If a traveler is not eligible for vaccination, they need to present a valid certificate issued by a testing agency recognized by the Chinese embassy or consulate in the country of origin.
rolled out to youngsters
Local health authorities will build upon the experience of the mainland and soon make Sinopharm’s inactivated virus vaccines available to people aged between 12 and 17 years old, Dr. Tai Wah Hou, medical director of the Conde de São Januário Hospital Center, said yesterday at the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center press briefing.
Tai — who also coordinates the vaccination program — said that mainland health authorities have concluded that both the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines are safe and effective in the younger population. As such, the local authorities will make the Sinopharm vaccine (the only one of these two vaccines available in Macau) available to this age group soon.
Prior to this, only those aged 18 or above could choose to be inoculated with the Sinopharm vaccine, while those younger than 18 could only have the BioNTech mRNA vaccine.
Hotels involved in recent Covid-19 cases not ruled out as quarantine venues
In response to a question from the media, Dr. Leong Iek Hou clarified that the two hotel complexes (Golden Crown China Hotel and Treasure Hotel) involved in the recent Covid-19 outbreak have not been ruled out from potential use as quarantine venues in the future.
According to Leong, the isolation period for the two hotels will end today, and the hotels will now be subject to a thorough cleaning and disinfection so they can be reopened to the public.
Regarding their use as quarantine venues, the doctor said that the authorities are currently ruling out this possibility for the time being. Hou said there was still much to be considered, as the hotels will have to pass a series of inspections by the authorities. They will also have to undergo an evaluation of several structural characteristics, including their capacity for adequate isolation and ventilation systems, she said.