Gov’t considering group vaccination bookings, lowers NAT price

Local health authorities are considering accepting group bookings from companies and institutions for vaccinations against Covid-19. This was revealed yesterday by the coordinator of the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center, Dr Leong Iek Hou during the weekly briefing on the situation of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Besides the online booking [mechanism], we are now reaching out to other public departments, public institutions, and private institutions to see if we can provide [vaccination] through an outer service [or] if we can organize a group of staff members or workers in those institutions and entities to come to our vaccination points so the vaccines can be given,” Leong said. He added, “In the next phase we want to reach out to the casino concessionaires and other private institutions and entities to arrange for this kind of group vaccination process.”
Although health officials reaffirmed yesterday that the vaccination plan in Macau is running according to the government’s expectations, Leong said that through this group vaccination method, the health authorities aim to accelerate the number of people in the community getting vaccines, and by extension, the desired rate of community immunization.
Asked by the media when the authorities expect that the desired level of immunization will be reached, health officials refused to reveal their timeline, noting only that the process has been running smoothly and according to expectations. They also noted that it is normal that a part of the population is still observing the processes to feel comfortable proceeding with vaccination subsequently.
“We know that a part of the population is still waiting and seeing how the situation evolves. But since last year, we have been preparing for the vaccine and we know how we can proceed step-by-step with the vaccination as soon as the vaccines arrive, and, since now the vaccines are here, we are following that plan according to the [population] needs,” Leong said. He additionally remarked, “Until this moment, over 34,000 residents have booked to be vaccinated and according to our expectation this is a desirable figure.”
The doctor also noted that the behavior of Macau’s population is common, and the health authorities are not extremely concerned with rushing the vaccination process, remarking it is normal and common that “once more people get the vaccine, others that are their inner circle and that observe that is safe and has carried no problems, they will also wish to be vaccinated.”
NAT price loweredto 90 patacas
The price for each Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) in Macau has been updated and will be reduced to 90 patacas from March 8, Dr Alvis Lo, medical director of the Conde de São Januário Hospital, informed yesterday during the same briefing.
Lo explained that the price reduction comes after negotiation and agreement between the health authorities and the service providers of such tests, and aims to give more convenience and provide the service at a cheaper price as has been requested by many residents, non-residents, and tourists.
Asked by the media whether the price reduction was due to a government subsidy, Lo explained that the negotiation was only related to the number of tests being conducted, and the time in which such tests will continue to be necessary, being a purely commercial agreement where no subsidy or government support is being considered.
The doctor also explained that it is normal and ideal that, as more time goes by, the possibilities of lowering the price for this service will increase since the initial investment made by the service providers becomes less relevant in terms of the price of each NAT.
Lo added that the government has recently authorized the installation of a new NAT point located at the Workers’ Field which has a capacity of 1,000 tests per day. He noted that other points might follow, according to the interest of the companies that provide the service, and after all inspections and authorizations are completed.

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