There have been updates to Macao’s epidemic prevention and control measures, as announced by the city’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre. People eligible to enter Macao coming from places considered risk areas for COVID-19 transmission, have to undergo strict medical observation upon arrival in Macao.
Macao ID holders coming from overseas or from Hong Kong need to complete a 21-day period of medical observation upon arrival in Macao, at facilities designated by the Macao SAR Government. That must be followed by at least seven days of health self-management.
Those holding ID issued by respectively either Mainland China, Macao, Hong Kong or the Taiwan region, and that arrive in Macao having most recently been in areas of Mainland China deemed at some risk for COVID-19 infection, are required to undergo 14 days of medical observation and at least 14 days of health self-management.
Health authorities in Macao will continue to pay close attention to any changes in the pandemic situation in various places, and will adjust inbound restrictions and quarantine requirements in a timely manner.
Foreigners are currently banned from entering Macao, except under special authorisation from the city’s health authorities (For details, please refer to the official webpage: https://www.ssm.gov.mo/apps1/PreventCOVID-19/en.aspx).
Health self-management rules
Those required to undergo a 14-day period of medical observation in Macao must also undergo at least 14 days of health self-management. People required to complete a 21-day period of medical observation are asked to undergo at least seven days of health self-management.
Those undergoing a period of health self-management should avoid crowded places, and should not provide front-line services. Such people can still either go to work or attend school.
Those undergoing a period of health self-management will be issued with a ‘yellow’ Macao Health Code certificate. This requires the person concerned to follow strict personal hygiene measures. Should such a person wish either to exit, or re-enter Macao, prior to the completion of their period of health self-management, they must produce a certificate showing they have tested ‘negative’ for COVID-19 infection. Such a certificate must have been issued within 48 hours of their intended departure from, or re-entry to, Macao. The person must also comply with any other requirements imposed by the authorities in their intended final destination.
Those undergoing a health self-management period in Macao will be required, one day prior to the end of the designated period, to take a nucleic acid test to prove they are free of COVID-19 infection. Only upon successful completion of such a test will the self-management period be concluded.
Anyone failing to comply with the additional health self-management measures could be placed under compulsory medical observation and may face criminal charges.
As of 25 January, Macao had not recorded any cases of community transmission of COVID-19. No local cases of infection (including asymptotic cases) had been reported for 302 consecutive days. Overall, Macao had dealt with a total of 47 confirmed COVID-19 patients since the start of the pandemic. Of the aggregate, 46 patients had already been released from medical care. Macao had had zero COVID-19-related deaths and zero infections among medical staff.
|‘Optional hotels’ now available for quarantine|
People undergoing medical observation in Macao must do so in isolation at designated facilities, under a centralised system. This permits close monitoring of the health of each person in quarantine, so that there can be immediate follow-up, testing and treatment should any COVID-19 symptoms arise. Such a system aims to reduce the risk of transmission of the disease within the community.
Accommodation options for those required to undergo medical observation are divided into two categories: ‘designated hotels’ and ‘optional hotels’. Designated hotels – directly appointed by the Government – are targeted at Macao ID holders and any accompanying relatives. The cost for a medical observation period in a ‘designated hotel’ is either MOP8,400 for a 21-day quarantine period, or MOP5,600 for a 14-day quarantine period. People that meet certain criteria can apply for payment exemption for their first-time quarantine. Those possessing a non-resident labour identity card can choose to stay in either a ‘designated hotel’ or an ‘optional hotel’ for their period of medical observation. They must pay in full the relevant cost.
There are currently three ‘optional hotels’ in use: Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel, Lisboeta and Regency Art Hotel. These are available to Macao ID holders and non-Macao ID holders that must undergo a medical observation period. The cost of a stay in one of these establishments must be borne by the person concerned. Such quarantine fees will depend on the hotel involved, and the quarantine period concerned. Macao ID holders who choose to stay at ‘optional hotels’ cannot apply for payment exemption from the Government.
Between 6 and 19 February inclusive, Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel will not be available as an ‘optional hotel’ for medical observation.
|‘Closed-loop’ system and strict measures prove effective|
A ‘closed-loop’ system for management of risk was put in place for the arrival in Macao on 21 January of two flights carrying home a total of 109 Macao ID holders. Upon prompt preliminary and immediate testing of those arriving, one passenger tested positive for COVID-19 infection.
The two flights from Tokyo – operated by Air Macau – were acting as connecting flights for some Macao ID holders returning home from an aggregate of 13 overseas countries, including places considered ‘high risk’ for COVID-19 transmission, such as the United Kingdom and Portugal.
The Macao SAR Government adopted the closed-loop system to manage the arrival of the flights. Following several meetings and cross-departmental discussions, adequate preparations and plans were put in place, with a string of strict control measures adopted and implemented in a comprehensive manner. Although one of the arriving passengers was identified as positive for COVID-19, the closed-loop system meant the traveller was immediately taken to hospital for medical care. Eight other passengers identified as having had close contact with the confirmed COVID-19 patient were transferred to a designated public health facility for medical observation.
All the arriving passengers were screened and tested on arrival for COVID-19. Returnees testing negative after a rapid-format COVID-19 test, were sent to a designated hotel for 21 days of general medical observation. By the end of that medical observation period, each returnee will have received a total of four nucleic acid tests for COVID-19.