Addressing Tuesday’s daily press conference about Macau’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, Health Bureau (SSM) Director Lei Chin Ion announced that the last of Macau’s 45 COVID-19 patients, a 15-year-old local girl studying in the United Kingdom, has been discharged after 56 days of isolation treatment.
“Now all the 35 patients in the second wave [of COVID-19], which began on March 15, have been discharged so Macau has now been cleared of confirmed [COVID-19] cases again,” the health chief said.
Lei said that although a patient among the 35 “second wave” patients had been in a serious condition, Macau has “successfully maintained its achievement of no COVID-19 deaths and no COVID-19 infection of any medical staff [in the public hospital] due to the effort made by medical staff”.
Macau’s “first wave” of COVID-19, which lasted from January 22 to February 4, comprised 10 patients – seven tourists from Wuhan and three locals, with the last patient discharged on March 6. After the “first wave”, Macau had not confirmed any new COVID-19 case for 39 consecutive days between February 5 and March 14, before the “second wave” began on March 15 and lasted until April 8 when the 45th case was confirmed.
Among Macau’s 45 COVID-19 cases, 43 have been classified as imported, while two have been classified as “cases related to imported cases”.
The majority of Macau’s 35 “second wave” patients are local students returning from overseas. Local residents account for two-thirds of Macau’s total of 45 COVID-19 patients.
Unlike Hong Kong, Macau has been spared a community outbreak and local transmission of the highly infectious disease. As of last night, Hong Kong had 1,055 confirmed cases with four deaths.
‘Extremely low’ COVID-19 risk
Lei pointed out on Tuesday that Macau has not confirmed a new COVID-19 case for 41 consecutive days – after the “second wave” of COVID-19. The health chief said this meant that the risk of COVID-19 infection in Macau now is “extremely low”. He was quick to add that Macau is still facing a COVID-19 threat as the epidemic in many foreign countries is still very serious. “Many new cases are constantly confirmed in some foreign countries like Russia and India every day,” he said.
Lei said that therefore the local government would have to maintain its COVID-19 prevention and control measures “for a period of time”. The health chief urged residents to continue to keep up all the necessary COVID-19 prevention measures, such as wearing a facemask when out and about, avoiding crowds, maintaining good personal hygiene, washing their hands frequently, and sticking to social distancing.
Meanwhile, Alvis Lo Iek Long, a clinical director of the public Conde S. Januário Hospital Centre, said that the 15-year-old girl, who was discharged on Tuesday, departed from the United Kingdom on March 16 via Kuala Lumpur for Hong Kong where she arrived the next day. She returned to Macau on March 24 on a “Golden Bus” via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB) after a week-long stay in Hong Kong. Upon arrival in Macau, Health Bureau officials detected that she had respiratory symptoms so she was immediately transferred to the public hospital’s special emergency ward where she was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease on March 25.
Following Tuesday’s discharge after 56 days of treatment, she has started her 14-day recovery period isolation at the Public Health Clinical Centre in Coloane, Lo said.
Pousada Marina Infante hotel almost full
Meanwhile, Inês Chan Lou, who heads the Licensing and Inspection Department of the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO), said during Tuesday’s press conference that the 298-room Pousada Marina Infante hotel in Cotai, the only remaining “quarantine hotel” currently, will soon be fully occupied. She said that therefore the government will reopen a “quarantine hotel” in the near future once all the guestrooms in Pousada Marina Infante are occupied, adding that the additional “quarantine hotel” was once used as a designated hotel for quarantine and medical observation purposes. She said that the name of the hotel would be announced in due course.
Chan said that, as of Tuesday afternoon, 316 people were still undergoing their 14 days of quarantine and medical observation at the Pousada Marina Infante hotel – comprising 197 Macau residents, 26 non-resident workers and 93 visitors. She said that some of the 316 people are aged below 12 so they are staying with their family members in the same rooms, adding that as of Tuesday afternoon, 10 or so guestrooms were still unoccupied in the 298-room hotel.
Chan said that in order to prepare for an emergency, the government has already asked the owner of one more hotel for it to be used again as a “readily available” quarantine facility.
At the peak in late March, there were 12 “quarantine hotels” with about 3,000 guestrooms when some 2,800 people were undergoing their 14 days of quarantine and medical observation. Since early April, most of the 12 hotels have returned to their normal hospitality role one after another once all those who completed their 14-day quarantine and medical observation had checked out. Early this month, Pousada Marina Infante became the only remaining “quarantine hotel” still operating after the other 11 hotels had returned to their normal hospitality roles.
No timetable yet for opening swimming pools
Meanwhile, SSM Control of Communicable Diseases and Surveillance of Diseases Department Coordinator Leong Iek Hou said that the Health Bureau and Sports Bureau (ID) were discussing the necessary conditions to open the city’s public swimming pools. She said that one of the conditions was to limit the number of swimmers. However, she was quick to add that there was still no timetable for opening the pools.
Customarily, Macau’s outdoor public swimming pools open on May 1. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both indoor and outdoor public swimming pools are currently closed.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
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