A total of 30 cases of suspected purchases of facemasks using other people’s Macau ID cards have been investigated by the police, Public Security Police (PSP) PR Department Chief Lei Tak Fai said in a daily press conference by the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) threat on Wednesday.
Since the first COVID-19 patient was discovered in Macau late last month, the government has rolled out its own stock of facemasks for holders of Macau ID cards (BIR) and work permits (informally known as “blue cards”).
Under the government’s facemask purchase scheme, each resident and non-resident worker is entitled to buy 10 government facemasks at a fixed price of 8 patacas from designated pharmacies, health centres and branches of three local associations every 10 days upon presentation of their ID card or work permit.
The government’s third round of facemask sales began on Wednesday when for the first time it also put facemasks tailor-made for children on sale.
Lei said that the police have so far recorded 30 cases where people have used other people’s ID cards to buy government-arranged facemasks. He said that among the 30 cases two have already been investigated, 12 are still under investigation and 14 involve pharmacy staff who apparently registered wrong identification numbers by mistake, thus causing misunderstandings.
According to Lei, the Public Security Police will investigate each case if there is any suspicion of illegality and will release details of the cases once they have been fully investigated, reminding the public that using other people’s identity documents is a serious crime.
Leong Iek Hou, coordinator of the Health Bureau’s (SSM) Infectious Disease Prevention and Disease Surveillance Department, said during the press conference that in the first round of the facemask scheme the theft of other people’s ID cards to buy facemasks was due to many factors. Concerning cases where the pharmacy staff entered the wrong ID number by mistake, Health Bureau officials have contacted the affected residents so that they could still purchase their quota of government-arranged facemasks.
Leong pointed out that in the second round, after the Health Bureau had announced that people can only buy the facemasks by presenting their or another person’s original ID card, the misappropriation of other people’s documents has been greatly reduced. In the first round, residents could still buy the facemasks by presenting copies of their or other people’s identity documents. According to the authorities, this led to a number of regulatory breaches.
Meanwhile, according to Leong, a total of 1.14 million government facemasks were sold on Wednesday, the first day of the third round, of which 19,000 were child facemasks.
Leong stressed that the supply of masks for kids in the third round was “absolutely sufficient”, urging parents not to rush to buy them as long as they make the purchase within the third round’s 10 days.
Parents and legal guardians can buy five facemasks for each child. The price of facemasks for adults and children is the same.