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Govt carries out Macau’s 1st drill for community-based COVID-19 measures

2021-03-18 03:55     Comment:0

The Macau government yesterday carried out a drill for community-based COVID-19 prevention and control measures in Coloane’s sprawling Seac Pai Van public housing estate, which simulated a scenario in which a resident living in a residential tower block is confirmed as a COVID-19 patient and his or her three family members develop COVID-19 symptoms, because of which the health authorities impose a lockdown on the building from which all the other residents are forbidden to leave.

Speaking to reporters at the Civil Protection Operations Centre in Pac On in Taipa after the completion of the drill in Seac Pai Van, which lasted two and a half hours, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U pledged that in case the local government needs to implement such measures – officially known as accurate COVID-19 prevention and control measures divided by areas and levels, it would try to keep a COVID-19 affected area as small as possible so that fewer residents would be inconvenienced. She also said that the government did not have a specific formula as to how long the lockdown of a COVID-19 affected area would last, adding that instead the lockdown’s length would be determined by health officials based on the real situation of the area’s COVID-19 epidemic.

Ao Ieong also said that over 500,000 local residents have provided their home address on their Macau Health Code, which she noted comprises most people living in the city, adding that this has provided a good foundation for the possible implementation of the government’s accurate COVID-19 prevention and control measures divided by areas and levels – which the government started to plan several months ago. She also said that now was the right time for the government to carry out a drill for its plan for the community-based COVID-19 prevention and control measures.

According to the local government’s plan for its community-based COVID-19 prevention and control measures, the Macau Health Code colour of those who live in a COVID-19 affected area where health officials consider there is a high risk of COVID-19 spreading will indicate red, according to which the area will be subjected to a lockdown which forbids residents living there to leave the area. The Macau Health Code colour of those who live in an area possibly affected by COVID-19 will indicate yellow, which bars residents from leaving Macau.

Yesterday’s drill was jointly carried out by the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre (CCCNTC) and the Civil Protection Operations Centre (COPC) at Lok Kuan social rental housing estate in Seac Pai Van.

The drill, which started at 10 a.m., simulated a scenario in which a resident living in Block 1 of Lok Kuan estate who does not have a travel history is confirmed as a COVID-19 patient in a local medical institution because of which the case is classified as a local COVID-19 case. The three family members living with him or her develop COVID-19 symptoms.

Lei Wai Seng, a senior Health Bureau official, and Kam Ka Kit, a senior Public Security Police (PSP) officer, briefed reporters on site about yesterday’s drill – before and during the drill.

About 550 people, comprising residents, officials and workers from various public entities, took part in the drill, Lei said.

Kam said that according to the simulated scenario, health officials determined that there was a high-risk of COVID-19 outbreak in Block 1 so that they decided to impose a lockdown on the building, whose residents are barred from leaving.

In the drill, the police set up a registration counter at the building’s entrance. Only residents who live in the building and whose Macau Health Code colour indicates red, are allowed to enter, according to Kam.

In the drill, firefighters took the COVID-19 patient’s three family members, who are classified as the patient’s close contacts, to hospital for follow-up medical examinations. Health Bureau officials collected samples from public areas in the building for COVID-19 tests so as to determine the level of the building’s COVID-19 outbreak risk, before Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) workers carried out cleaning and disinfection in the building’s public areas.

In the drill, Health Bureau officials set up a nucleic acid testing (NAT) sample collection point outside the building. Several residents who took part in the drill had their sample collected by health officials there.

Lei noted that the Macau Health Code colour of residents living in a building where a local COVID-19 case has been confirmed will indicate red. All residents there must undergo a nucleic acid test. The Health Bureau will contact those who have already left the building to return there to undergo a nucleic acid test as well. The building’s residents must stay in their homes while waiting for their respective NAT results, according to Lei.

Lei said that in case a building is subjected to a lockdown, the Health Bureau will have the NAT results of the affected residents available within six hours.

According to Lei, the lockdown of a COVID-19 affected building will be lifted depending on the residents’ NAT results and the development of the building’s COVID-19 epidemic situation.

In yesterday’s drill, IAM officials showed the media how residents of a locked-down building would collect dried food at a point outside the building. In case a lockdown is imposed, each resident can collect dried food items sufficient for a 48-hour period. IAM officials will also provide hot meal boxes for those who ask for them at the food collection point.

Kam said that according to the simulated scenario, health officials determined that there is a risk of COVID-19 transmission in three other buildings of Lok Kuan estate – which comprises a total of six towers, because of which the police also imposed a lockdown on the three buildings, where residents have their Macau Health Code colour turn yellow.

Ao Ieong said last year that the government planned to divide Macau into 30 “COVID-19 affected areas” for the possible implementation of its community-based COVID-19 prevention and control measures.

Speaking to reporters at the Civil Protection Operations Centre in Pac On, Ao Ieong said that in case Macau confirms new local COVID-19 cases, the government will try to classify COVID-19 affected areas as small as possible – i.e. imposing a lockdown on the respective buildings instead of the whole areas, with the aim of affecting a smaller number of residents.


Two medical workers collect a sample from a man via a nasopharyngeal swab for a nucleic acid test (NAT) in a tent temporarily set up outside Lok Kuan social rental housing estate in Seac Pai Van in Coloane during yesterday’s drill for the government’s community-based COVID-19 prevention and control measures.


A man (wearing a pink T-shirt) who took part in yesterday’s drill and was a Seac Pai Van resident in the simulated scenario enters Block 1 of Lok Kuan estate after completing a registration process for his entry into the building at a police counter. Photos: Iong Tat Choi


Flanked by Unitary Police Service (SPU) Commissioner-General Leong Man Cheong (third from left), Health Bureau (SSM) Director Lei Chin Ion (third from right) and other senior officials, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U (centre) speaks to reporters at the Civil Protection Operations Centre (COPC) in Pac On in Taipa yesterday. Photo: Tony Wong

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