Local scholars consider gov’t pandemic response ‘faultless’

The fact that Macau is a densely populated touristic city and, when compared with other countries or territories with a similar profile, has a much lower mortality rate for Covid-19, has led a group of scholars from the University of Macau (UM) and the United Nations University Institute in Macau (UNU Macau) to conclude that the response of the local government to the pandemic was faultless and serves as an example for other places in their fight against the disease, an academic paper published by the 10 researchers in the International Journal of Biological Sciences has noted.

Titled “Covid-19 prevention and control strategies: learning from the Macau model,” the research paper signed by the 10 researchers – nine from the UM and one from the UNU Macau – concluded, through qualitative as well as quantitative analysis methods, that the efforts in Macau “have achieved remarkable results in Covid-19 prevention and control, effectively safeguarding the lives and health of the people and manifesting the core principle of ‘serving the public’. The measures used are sustainable and can serve as an important reference for other countries/regions.”

According to the researchers, the results obtained “reveal that Macau has provided undifferentiated mask purchase reservation services [and] Covid-19 vaccination services to all residents and non-residents in Macau along with delivering multilingual services, in Chinese, English, and Portuguese, to different groups of the population.”

Additionally, “to facilitate the travel of people, business and trades between Macau and mainland China, the Macau government launched the Macao Health Code System, which uses the health status declaration, residence history declaration, contact history declaration of the declarant to match various relevant backend databases within the health authority and provide a risk-related color code operation. The Macao Health Code System connects to the Chinese mainland’s own propriety health code system seamlessly, whilst effectively protecting the privacy of the residents.”

As for vaccination and nucleic acid testing, the study indicates that Macau “has also developed the Covid-19 Vaccination Appointment system, the Nucleic Acid Test Appointment system, the Port and Entry/Exit Quarantine system, the medical and other supporting systems,” actions that researchers state contributed to the lower mortality rate in Macau when compared with other countries or regions of a similar profile.

Financial support measures and the granting of food supplies were also taken into account, with the researchers stating that the “financial support programs” have attained considerable success in relieving people’s hardships, stabilizing the economy, and securing local employment while keeping the whole of society stable.

Another social aspect in which the Macau government is also considered a good example is the “taking of proper measures to provide accommodation and work-for-relief schemes for non-resident workers.”

The role of the media was not forgotten, with researchers praising particularly the Macao Daily (newspaper) “for providing public education on Covid-19 vaccination and encouraging the public, particularly vulnerable populations including children and elderly, to get vaccinated.”

Although it is said that the low mortality rate of Macau “when compared to other countries and territories” was the main driver of the paper’s conclusions, no comparison is made to any country or region, with the study enumerating only the series of measures taken by the central and local governments, mostly during the first year of the pandemic.

The paper notes in its discussion section that, “Generally speaking, the measures and methods for managing Covid-19 in Macau have almost reached perfection, with the only shortfall [being] that the economy has not yet recovered to its level before the pandemic outbreak because the economic connections between Macau and other countries are almost at a standstill.”

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