Scientific leaps essential to lifting border restrictions, say medical experts

The existence of an effective vaccine is a crucial condition for the lifting of border restrictions such as quarantines, Dr. Alvis Lo, medical director of the public Conde São Januário Hospital, has said.
At yesterday’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center press conference, the doctor explained that, globally, prevention and control of the pandemic was full of uncertainties.
“Let’s look at the infection figures each day,” Lo said. “Many places still see new infections and deaths [being] recorded.”
Before discussing vaccinations, he said that Macau is relatively fortunate to have the opportunity to discuss the lifting of certain border restrictions, instead of the number of new infections or deaths.
“As per the current global situation, I believe we need a new thing to get the condition fully under control,” he said. “By a new thing I mean, for example, vaccination and medications.”
According to Lo, when an academic from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Zhong Nanshan, visited Macau a few days ago, he suggested that at least five vaccinations in China alone have reached the second phase of clinical trials.
“We need to have hope. Science is progressing. We need to bear in mind that many groups of people are working on vaccinations and medications,” Lo said as an encouragement.
“Our containment efforts have worked out and can be considered successful.”
On the hopes of returning to normal border-crossings without nucleic acid tests, health codes and masks, Lo said it would only be possible with effective vaccinations and medications. “It should take some time,” the doctor said.
As for the requirements to wear masks, Dr. Leong Iek Hou, coordinator at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the health authorities have been working on a guideline, but that the situation has changed, so it has been put on hold for now.
“We have been working on amending the guideline,” Leong explained. “During this [period], Beijing had new infections, that’s why we have decided to wait and see if any impacts will be felt in Macau or our neighboring regions.”
Leong added that an announcement will be made if any updates become available.
Meanwhile, it was reported that some people were trying to depart Macau for overseas via the special ferry service to the Hong Kong International Airport. They were barred from boarding the ferry because their trips involved transit stops between Hong Kong and their final destinations.
When questioned about the situation, Lau Fong Chi, head of the Public Relations Division of the Macao Government Tourism Office, said, “We are aware of a press release issued yesterday by the Airport Authority in Hong Kong, which explained the fact that some measures are in place with regards to transit passengers.”
This was because some transit passengers were stranded at Hong Kong International Airport as they could not board their connecting flights.
“It is possible that the Airport Authority has enacted certain special measures on certain flights of certain airlines,” Lau added. “It only affects transit passengers catching a connecting flight in Hong Kong but not those departing Macau and catching a flight there.”

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