Macau’s Health Bureau (SSM) on Friday did not rule out the possibility of a local community outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Macau.
Speaking during a daily press conference about the Wuhan virus threat, SSM Director Lei Chin Ion said it would be “difficult to rule out the possibility of having a community outbreak” in the city, which has a population of nearly 680,000 that includes about 190,000 non-resident workers, around two-thirds of them from the Chinese mainland.
He urged the population to take the necessary measures to avoid being infected with the virus.
Meanwhile, senior officials from a wide range of government portfolios said during the 90-minute press conference that there was currently no “scientific basis” that would require the closure of the city’s some three dozen casinos in the wake of the novel coronavirus threat.
The officials insisted that the government was closely monitoring the situation in the city’s casinos, pointing out that all casino workers are required to wear facemasks and that all people entering or exiting gaming premises must have their body temperature scanned.
According to the Macau Post Daily, the officials also excluded the possibility of other people in the Oceanus casino in the Outer Harbour area having been infected by a 75-year-old Hong Kong resident in the middle of this month with the virus.
The septuagenarian is one of Hong Kong’s 12 confirmed Wuhan virus patients. An SSM physician told the press conference, “We haven’t confirmed any symptoms [of the Wuhan virus] among the Oceanus staff, and that’s why for the time being we rule out [the possibility of infection in the casino].”
However, Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong reaffirmed during the press conference the government’s repeatedly stated position that if the Wuhan virus situation should deteriorate in Macau it would not rule out the possibility of closing Macau’s 41 casinos.