Students returning from Taiwan exempted from pre-flight Covid-19 test

Macau university students pursuing an education in Taiwan can be exempted from the Covid-19 nucleic acid test prior to their flight back home, the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center has announced.
A registration platform for testing exemption started operation yesterday on the website of the Higher Education Bureau. The measure was implemented because people flying into Macau are required to show a virus-free test result upon checking in for their flights. The beginning of summer holidays in Taiwan may see a large number of students returning home.
To register, students must declare whether they have had unprotected contact with a Covid-19 patient, and have any symptoms of fever, acute respiratory symptoms, sore throat or shortness of breath. They will also be asked to provide their personal and flight details. Registration must occur at least 48 hours prior to the flight.
The exemption does not waive the need for a 14-day quarantine period upon arriving in Macau. Students will be sent directly to designated hotels for quarantine upon arrival.
Despite the fact that the island has seen no new infection since April 13, Dr Alvis Lo, medical director of the Conde de São Januário Hospital, explained at yesterday’s press conference that the quarantine is a precautionary measure.
“In order to ensure the health and safety of all people in Macau, the [quarantine] measure will continue to take effect for the time being,” Lo said. “I must reiterate that quite a significant number of students are returning home from Taiwan. We are only waiving their pre-flight test. They still need to be quarantined upon arrival.”
Indeed, the medical doctor stressed that these students will eventually take two Covid-19 tests in Macau – one at the airport, and the other right before their quarantine ends.
Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Elsie Ao Ieong U, issued an official order yesterday to institutionalize the prices for the Covid-19 test and centrally supplied masks. However, Lo stressed that this should not be interpreted as an indefinite continuation of the centralized mask supply scheme.
Apart from that, the public are speculating as to what the local government has done to enable the test to be so much cheaper than in Hong Kong.
Lo explained that it was because of economies of scale. “Because the government has taken the lead to negotiate with and assigned the tender to one vendor, we have more bargaining power.”
Because the government is taking the lead, the vendor does not need to incur costs in hiring its own medical and security staff or rent a site to handle the test. “This helps lower the costs significantly,” Lo explained.
Separately, on behalf of the Macao Customs Service, the Public Security Police Force explained that continued effort is being put into combating unreasonably frequent border crossings and small-scale smuggling of cigarettes, meat and vegetables from Zhuhai.

Categories Macau