Our Desk | Macau’s stranger things

Renato Marques

In the past few days, strange and mysterious things have been happening in Macau which have not been mentioned.
Over the last week, the Health Bureau (SSM) has issued five notifications about “seasonal flu” infection clusters in Macau schools involving a total of 33 students from different year levels.
According to the most recent comparison study of influenza and Covid-19 by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “Both the flu and Covid-19 spread in similar ways. Droplets or smaller virus particles from a sick person can transmit the virus to other people nearby. The smallest particles may linger in the air, and another person can inhale them and become infected […] Or, people can touch a surface with viruses on it, and then transfer the germs to themselves by touching their face.”
Why am I bringing this up? Simple! This brings us a dilemma. Either the measures enforced by local health authorities to contain the Covid-19 are not effective or the schools where these flu outbreaks occurred are not following those guidelines set by the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ).
One thing’s for sure: with Covid-19 containment measures in force, there should not have been a cluster of influenza infections, since the same preventive measures apply for both viruses.
If this wasn’t strange enough, it is even stranger that the five groups infected with flu went unnoticed and did not receive notes or comments in the biweekly press briefing from local health authorities.
Should we not be concerned? Should we be investigating how this was possible? The answer to both questions is apparently not.
Still, it sure makes me feel glad that we have not had any Covid-19 locally transmitted cases in Macau since the beginning of the outbreak. As SSM reports show, if there had been any cases, even with all our preventive measures in force, we would have all been infected by now.
Another strange (or not) thing that was widespread over the last week was … xenophobia.
In times where racism, xenophobia, and all other forms of discrimination have been central to constant and prolonged debates, I was almost shocked (I said almost) when I saw the birth of the anti-foreigner movement, or should I say, anti-non-Chinese nationals movement in Macau.
The cause is the Macau Grand Prix, or more specifically, the information that the government is arranging for the entry of foreign drivers and riders onto Macau’s pure soil for the “event of the year” which will apparently only attract half a dozen visitors to our tourist-thirsty economy.
Maybe, just maybe, we are (just) in the presence of what I want to believe is a misinformation campaign. So, I dare to explain that: 1) to board an airplane before even reaching Macau, “devil” foreigners need to present a negative Covid-19 nucleic acid test; 2) to enter Macau they also need to undergo the same medical checkups that allowed all those infected Macau residents from abroad to enter (remember?); 3) they still need to undergo a 14-day quarantine in an isolation facility designated by the government for which they will have to pay 5,600 patacas per person as requested by the local authorities.
Can you explain to me now how this constitutes any added risk to the community when compared to previous returnees? I am looking forward to hearing these explanations. Otherwise, it is just xenophobia!

Categories Opinion