Addressing Friday’s press conference about Macao’s novel coronavirus situation, Alvis Lo Iek Long, a clinical director of the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, said that Macao’s COVID-19 testing capability has been further raised from 16,000 to 23,000 people per day, equivalent to some 3.4 per cent of the city’s population.
According to the Statistics and Census Bureau (DSEC), Macao’s population stood at 696,100 at the end of March.
Macao’s COVID-19 testing capability was raised from 6,000 to 16,000 people per day in late June.
The Macao government launched its nucleic acid testing (NAT) scheme on 7 May when its first and main testing station at the Taipa Ferry Terminal in Pac On started operating. The Health Bureau (SSM) has commissioned a third-party testing institution – Kuok Kim (Macau) Hygiene Examination Company Limited – to carry out COVID-19 testing there.
A new testing station for the government’s NAT scheme, which is located at the Macau Forum complex in Zape, came into operation last month. The new Macau Forum testing station is temporarily being operated by the Health Bureau before it commissions a third-party testing institution to carry out COVID-19 testing there. The government has not said whether the same testing institution – Kuok Kim – or a new one will carry out the COVID-19 testing at the Macau Forum testing station.
Residents who plan to visit Guangdong have to make an appointment online to be tested for COVID-19 under the Macao government’s NAT scheme so that they can present a NAT certificate confirming that they have tested negative for COVID-19 when crossing the Macao-Zhuhai border. In addition to the COVID-19 testing at the Macau Forum testing station, the Health Bureau has been carrying out nucleic acid tests for certain groups of people such as confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients, those who have been in close contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients, those with a fever or any respiratory symptoms, newly hospitalised patients, and those undergoing quarantine, as well as for those working in certain sectors and occupations such as teachers, social service facility staff members, fisherfolks, casino frontline workers, cross-border drivers, cargo ship and aeroplane crew members.
Lo said on Friday that the Macao government can constantly increase its COVID-19 testing capability thanks to the purchasing of additional testing equipment and test reagents and constant training of more medical staff members capable of collecting samples from those undergoing their nucleic acid tests.
‘No need for population-wide testing’
Lo also underlined that for the time being there is no urgent need for the local government to carry out population-wide testing for COVID-19. Lo pointed out that local residents and non-resident workers can have the first COVID-19 test free of charge according to the government’s NAT scheme. He said that this arrangement was similar to a population-wide COVID-19 testing on a voluntary basis.
Lo said that some 300,000 local residents and non-resident workers have undergone their first-time-free tests under the government’s NAT programme.
According to the NAT scheme, the first test is free of charge for all Macao residents and non-resident workers, but follow-up tests cost MOP 180 each – which will be lowered to MOP 120 from Wednesday this week. However, all other kinds of travellers have to pay for each test – no fee exemption even for the first test.