Addressing Sunday’s daily press conference about Macau’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, Alvis Lo Iek Long, a clinical director of the public Conde S. Januário Hospital Centre, said a new measure concerning the validity of a nucleic acid test certificate obtained by those travelling between Macau and Zhuhai that merely indicates that they have had their sample collected was needed to protect the two cities from the COVID-19 risk.
Since last Monday, all arrivals from the mainland have to show a nucleic acid test certificate proving that they have tested negative for COVID-19 – or had their sample collected – within the past seven days before being allowed to enter Macau. Macau residents or visitors who fail to show the certificate will be taken to the local government’s nucleic acid testing station at the Taipa Ferry Terminal in Pac On for a nucleic acid test, while non-resident workers from the mainland will be denied entry.
Lo announced during Saturday’s daily press conference that starting from 6 a.m. on Sunday those who have obtained a nucleic acid test certificate merely indicating that they have had their sample collected are only allowed to enter Zhuhai or Macau after 24 hours have passed since their sample was collected.
According to Saturday’s announcement, Macau residents returning to Macau who have had their sample collected less than 24 hours prior to re-entry are required to undergo medical observation at their home until reaching the 24-hour requirement, while visitors entering Macau are required to undergo medical observation in their hotel guestroom.
During Saturday’s press conference, Lo said that a valid nucleic acid test certificate just indicating that the person has had their sample collected “is now defined as the sample having been collected at least 24 hours ago”.
Lo said on Saturday that mainland non-resident workers who fail to show a valid nucleic acid test certificate will be denied entry.
During Sunday’s press conference, Lo gave more details about the new measure – which has been implemented since 6 a.m. on Sunday. According to Lo, a nucleic acid test certificate indicating that the person has had their sample collected is only valid after 24 hours have passed since collection. Lo said that, for instance, if a person had their sample collected on June 1, then the certificate will start to be valid on June 2, plus seven days from June 2 so that the certificate (if the person tests negative for COVID-19) will be valid until June 9 inclusive.
As the nucleic acid testing stations at the mainland-Macau checkpoints in Zhuhai were slated to close on May 8, the Macau government launched on May 7 a nucleic acid testing scheme for Macau residents who live in Zhuhai and work in Macau (with a Zhuhai residence permit), and Macau pupils and teachers who live in Zhuhai or Zhongshan. The testing was extended from the next day to other Macau residents who need to cross the Macau-Zhuhai border checkpoints but do not hold a Zhuhai residence permit. The scheme was later extended to mainland non-resident workers who are eligible for the new exemption measure – which has been implemented since last Monday – from the 14-day quarantine requirement.
The scheme was extended from Thursday last week to mainlanders who have entered Macau with a business visit permit, a permit for visiting relatives, or a travel permit for official purposes, or mainlanders who have entered Macau using their passport. The tests have a validity of seven days. The first test is free of charge for all Macau residents and non-resident workers, but follow-up tests will cost 180 patacas each. However, mainland visitors have to pay 180 patacas for each test – no fee exemption even for the first test. Cross-border pupils and teachers are exempt from the fee.
Macau people who live in Zhuhai but work in Macau (with a Zhuhai residence permit), Macau pupils and teachers who live in Zhuhai or Zhongshan, and non-resident workers holding a Zhuhai ID card or residence permit are currently exempted from the 14-day quarantine measure imposed by the Guangdong government.
In addition to the local government’s nucleic acid testing station in Pac On, Macau-Zhuhai cross-border commuters can also undergo their nucleic acid tests at one of several designated hospitals in Zhuhai.
The Macau government has reaffirmed that having to undergo a nucleic acid test does not mean that the person will then be exempted from the current 14-day quarantine measure imposed by Guangdong, pointing out that the Guangdong provincial government has not changed its measure in this respect.
The Macau government has pointed out that if not holding a valid nucleic acid test certificate, Macau residents who are covered by the quarantine exemption by Guangdong should undergo their nucleic acid tests at the Pac On testing station before entering Zhuhai, while Macau residents should undergo their tests in Zhuhai before returning to Macau.
During Sunday’s press conference, Lo said the new measure will ensure that a traveller tests negative for COVID-19 before they cross the Macau-Zhuhai border checkpoints because normally a result will be available within 24 hours, adding that the new measure will better protect the communities in the two cities from the COVID-19 risk.
No new case for 39 days, only 1 patient still in hospital
Meanwhile, Lo also pointed out on Sunday that Macau has not confirmed a new COVID-19 case for 39 consecutive days as of Sunday.
Only one of Macau’s 45 COVID-19 patients is still hospitalised, the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre has announced.
A 27-year-old woman from South Korea was discharged from isolation treatment on Saturday, after 62 days of hospital treatment. She was immediately transferred to a quarantine section of the Public Health Clinical Centre in Coloane for 14 days of isolation and medical observation.
The officials said that she needed to pay 18,000 patacas for her treatment. According to earlier reports, the woman is a non-resident worker employed by Air Macau as a flight attendant. Residents’ COVID-19 treatment is free of charge.
The only remaining COVID-19 patient is a 15-year-old local girl who tested positive for the disease upon arrival from Great Britain, where she studies, on March 25.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © Government Information Bureau (GCS)