Addressing Sunday’s daily press conference about Macau’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the Health Bureau’s (SSM) Control of Communicable Diseases and Surveillance of Diseases Department Coordinator Leong Iek Hou said that the local government has decided to also classify South Korea as a COVID-19 high-prevalence region – and therefore, starting Monday, visitors arriving from South Korea must also undergo a medical examination, after considering that the number of confirmed cases in the East Asian country has sharply increased within a few days and community outbreaks have occurred there.
Leong made the remarks on Sunday evening at the bureau next to the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre.
The new medical examination measure for visitors from COVID-19 high-prevalence regions and for local parallel traders (colloquially known in Cantonese as “seoi haak”, or “water guests”) took effect at 00:00 on Thursday.
According to local Chinese-language media reports, some parallel traders are known to have crossed the Zhuhai-Macau border up to 18 times a day.
Under the measure, visitors arriving from COVID-19 high-prevalence regions have to undergo a medical examination, which lasts six to eight hours. The local government has set up two stations where medical staff members carry out the medical examinations – one at the Workers Stadium next to the Barrier Gate checkpoint for visitors arriving at the border checkpoints on the peninsula and the other at the Taipa Ferry Terminal for visitors arriving at the border checkpoints in Taipa and Cotai.
The local government said on Thursday that it had classified the provinces of Guangdong, Henan and Zhejiang, as well as the municipalities of Beijing, Chongqing and Shanghai, as high-prevalence COVID-19 areas. Visitors arriving from these areas must undergo a medical examination upon arrival in Macau. Residents of Hubei are currently forbidden to leave the province.
The medical examination is also applicable to other visitors who have been in any high-prevalence regions 14 days before their intended entry into Macau.
The new measure also covers Macau residents who cross Macau-Zhuhai border checkpoints “an abnormal number of times” per day – i.e. suspected parallel traders who travel between the two cities more than three times a day.
The local police have said that immigration officers do not strictly adhere to the more-then-three-times criterion for Macau residents who cross Macau-Zhuhai border checkpoints “an abnormal number of times” per day, and decide case by case whether to order a local resident crossing the checkpoint to undergo the medical examination.
The government has said that the visitors from COVID-19 high-prevalence regions cover all those who have arrived in Macau from Zhuhai because Guangdong province is a high-prevalence region. Concerning those who have arrived in Macau by air, the local authorities will ask them whether they have been in any high-prevalence regions 14 days prior, and failing to tell the truth they face punishment, the government has said.
During yesterday’s press conference, Leong said that the local government has classified South Korea as a COVID-19 high-prevalence region, adding that, starting from 00:00 today, South Koreans – and other visitors who have been in the country 14 days prior – must undergo the medical examination. These visitors upon arrival will be transported by the police to either the Workers Stadium on the peninsula or the Taipa Ferry Terminal for the medical examinations, Leong said.