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Govt mulls requiring certain unjabbed people to be tested for COVID-19 regularly

2021-08-31 03:29     Comment:0

Addressing yesterday’s press conference about Macau’s novel coronavirus situation, Tai Wa Hou, a clinical director of the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, said that the government is studying the possibility of requiring certain groups of people such as civil servants and teachers who have not been inoculated against COVID-19 to be tested for the novel coronavirus regularly.

The Hong Kong government announced early this month that from next month four groups of people must get vaccinated against COVID-19 otherwise they will need to undergo a paid COVID-19 test regularly, namely 1) civil servants and all others working for the government, 2) all staff members of the Hospital Authority (HA), 3) all those working in care homes for senior citizens or the disabled, and 4) all staff members of schools and kindergartens.

During yesterday’s press conference, Tai said that the COVID-19 vaccination rate among Macau’s medical workers has now increased to 70 percent.

The Macau Post Daily asked whether the Macau government would consider rolling out a COVID-19 vaccination measure similar to the Hong Kong one – i.e., requiring civil servants and certain other groups of people to be inoculated against the novel coronavirus, otherwise they would have to get tested regularly. Tai reaffirmed that the Macau government will stick to the principle that COVID-19 vaccinations are voluntary and people can always choose which type of COVID-19 vaccines they receive. “The situations in different places are different, in Macau it is difficult to force certain groups of people to get inoculated,” Tai said.

“Instead, we will continue to strongly encourage various groups of people to get inoculated. In particular, certain groups of people, such as civil servants, teachers and those working in social service facilities, have the responsibility and obligation to be inoculated,” Tai said.

Tai went on to say that the Macau government is studying the possibility of requiring certain groups of people who have not been inoculated against COVID-19 to be subject to alternative measures, such as undergoing nucleic acid tests (NATs) regularly. Tai pointed out that two groups of people, namely public medical workers and other civil servants working on the frontline such as customs and immigration officers, have been subject to such a measure, adding that the government is studying whether the measure could be extended to other groups of people, with the aim of boosting COVID-19 vaccinations in Macau.

Why teachers and social service facility staff should get jabs

A reporter asked why the government now appeared to assume that civil servants and teachers also have the responsibility and obligation to be inoculated against COVID-19, in addition to medical workers.

Tai said that medical workers per se should promote COVID-19 vaccinations as inoculating against the novel coronavirus is generally regarded by the medical sector as the only way of winning the battle against COVID-19 and for civil society to return to normality. Consequently, Tai said, medical workers have the obligation to promote such an idea to members of the general public. In addition, Tai said that medical workers have the responsibility to persuade their patients to be inoculated against COVID-19. “If medical workers do not agree with the idea and do not get vaccinated, how can they tell others to get inoculated,” Tai asked rhetorically.

Tai noted that teachers interact with their students and staff members of social service facilities look after vulnerable groups of people. Tai said that if teachers and those working in social service facilities get infected with the novel coronavirus, it is very likely that they would infect “those they are in contact with every day”, because of which, he said, the government considers that teachers and staff members of social service facilities also have the responsibility and obligation to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Tai underlined that compared to members of the general public, teachers and those working in social service facilities have the greater responsibility and obligation to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, 598,356 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered to 326,165 people in Macau, comprising 52,056 who had received their first jab and 274,109 who had received their second jab.

Macau’s COVID-19 vaccination rate stood at 47.8 percent as of 4 p.m. yesterday – i.e., about 47 percent of the population had received at least one jab. According to the latest demographic statistics, Macau’s population stood at 682,500 at the end of June.

A total of 13 adverse events were reported in the past 24 hours (until 4 p.m. yesterday). The total number of adverse events since the start of the vaccination drive stood at 2,534, or 0.42 percent of the total number of jabs, including eight serious cases.

Macau has not recorded a new local COVID-19 case for 27 consecutive days after a Delta variant four-member family cluster was confirmed on August 3.

Girl from Delta variant family cluster discharged

Including the recent four-member Delta variant family cluster, Macau has recorded 63 COVID-19 cases since January 22 last year.

Before the four latest cases, Macau’s total of 59 COVID-19 cases comprised 57 imported cases and two cases connected to imported ones.

The Health Bureau has classified the case of the Delta variant family’s schoolgirl as an imported case, while her three family members’ cases have been classified as “connected to imported cases”.

Consequently, the 63 cases comprise 58 imported cases and five cases connected to imported ones.

Meanwhile, Tai announced that the family’s 12-year-old daughter was discharged on Friday last week, after which she has started her recovery period isolation at the bureau’s Public Health Clinical Centre in Coloane. Now only three of the four members of the family cluster are still undergoing isolation treatment – the parents and their son.


Tai Wa Hou, a clinical director of the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, addresses yesterday’s press conference about the city’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Photo: GCS

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