Gov’t encourages locals to stay in town during CNY

Macau residents should consider spending their Lunar New Year holidays in the city and drop unnecessary travel, Dr Alvis Lo of the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center advised at the weekly health press briefing yesterday.
“[The administration of] our country has discouraged the flow of people during the Lunar New Year period so as to further control the pandemic,” Lo remarked. “After assessment, the Macau government suggests that its residents remain in Macau during the holiday period.”
“We can see that there are risk factors in many places,” the medical doctor added.
The mid-risk area list of the local health authority has recently expanded due to reported relapses of infection in many parts of the mainland. For example, two entire cities have been added to the list of places from which entrants will need to be quarantined upon arriving in Macau. Previously, the list usually only listed particular districts, real estate properties or even specific streets which were designated as high risk.
The medical doctor cited the long period of the city not seeing new cases in support of the government’s suggestion.
“We have invested in our defensive efforts for so long,” Lo said. “The current condition was not easily obtained. I hope we are able to maintain it.”
Despite the suggestion, Lo stressed that this is not a directive. Residents can still travel if they consider it necessary.
He then pointed out that the vaccination program will start in the first quarter of the year, before asking local residents to help reduce “unnecessary risk factors.”
In light of some new cases detected on the mainland, Ma Chio Hong, division head at the Public Security Police Force, was asked if the authority has been keeping track of the health conditions of entrants from Hebei Province.
The police officer stressed that entrants from the mainland must possess a negative coronavirus nucleic acid test result and a Green Mainland Health Code in order to be admitted to Macau.
He also introduced that, should any suspicions arise at the border, police officers will refer the entrants to the Health Bureau (SSM) post at the border checkpoint for further confirmation of their health status and travel history.
“So, I’d like to say that mainland entrants in Macau are basically safe,” Ma concluded.
However, the police officer could not provide figures on the number of Hebei entrants currently in Macau due to the method used by the authority to record tourist arrivals.
Regarding Macau’s capacity to handle a Covid-19 outbreak at a given timepoint, Lo explained that Macau has 266 beds in its isolation ward. In the first phase of Covid-19, Macau had only 180 beds in its isolation ward.
A makeshift hospital is also within the government’s plan. Lo explained that it will provide assistance with the city’s infrastructure needs in the event of a possible outbreak.
Contingencies have also been made in different divisions of the SSM to meet any resourcing needs.
“Staff in different divisions have been trained to handle sudden increases in the number of patients,” Lo revealed. “We may need the whole staff of the SSM should a sudden influx of patients occur.”

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