Macau heeds NHC advice, rolls out new COVID-19 measures

2021-09-20 03:27     Comment:0

Beijing urges ‘pro-active’ & ‘tailor-made’ approach

The Health Bureau (SSM) said yesterday that the local government has rolled out a string of new measures to strengthen its COVID-19 prevention work after a four-day inspection visit by an expert team from the National Health Commission (NHC) between late last month and early this month.

The NHC team visited Macau from August 30 to September 2 to assess the city’s COVID-19 prevention and control work and give local health officials suggestions on improving the local authorities’ novel coronavirus prevention and control measures.

In a statement yesterday, the Health Bureau said that a delegation led by its director Alvis Lo Iek Long visited the National Health Commission in Beijing recently, when NHC officials presented the commission’s final report summarising the findings of its expert team’s Macau inspection visit to the local health delegation. Yesterday’s statement did not mention when the delegation visited Beijing and how long the visit lasted.

The Health Bureau revealed information about the NHC expert team’s inspection visit during the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre’s regular COVID-19 press conference on September 2.

While the NHC expert team, according to the September 2 press conference, acknowledged Macau’s achievements in its COVID-19 prevention and control work, it urged the local government to roll out more “pro-active” measures to boost COVID-19 vaccinations considering the then “large” difference in inoculation rates between Macau and the mainland, which, according to the press conference, was “adversely affecting” Macau’s COVID-19 prevention and control work.

Meeting in Beijing

During its visit to Beijing, yesterday’s statement said, the local health delegation held a meeting with NHC officials which was hosted by Shen Hongbing, a deputy director of the National Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention, a vice-ministerial agency under the National Health Commission.

According to yesterday’s statement, the meeting in Beijing covered topics such as the NHC expert team’s inspection visit to Macau about three weeks ago and COVID-19 prevention and control cooperation between the mainland and Macau.

According to yesterday’s statement, Shen noted that the final report made by the NHC expert team fully acknowledges Macau’s achievements in its COVID-19 prevention and control work and the fact that Macau has always been implementing COVID-19 measures in line with the mainland’s.

During the meeting in Beijing, according to yesterday’s statement, Shen quoted the NHC expert team as underlining the large number of people commuting between Macau and Zhuhai. The free movement of people between Macau and the mainland highlights the importance for the Macau government to continue to stick to its COVID-19 prevention and control principle of guarding against imported cases and the possibility of locally transmitted cases, Shen quoted the NHC experts as saying.

Yesterday’s statement underlined that the NHC expert team has come up with various suggestions on improving Macau’s fight against COVID-19. The NHC experts suggest that Macau strengthen its COVID-19 infection control measures in hospitals and that local hospitals should raise their clinical treatment capability, the statement said.

‘Important’ groups of people

According to the statement, the NHC experts have also urged the local government to clearly classify – in line with its COVID-19 risk assessments – “important” groups of people who are potentially subject to a higher COVID-19 risk. The local government should carry out COVID-19 nucleic acid tests (NATs) in different ways for different “important” groups of people based on their respective COVID-19 risks, the statement quoted the NHC experts as saying.

The NHC experts have urged the local government to include those who have sought treatment at medical institutions and those working in occupations subject to a high COVID-19 risk as “important” groups of people subject to the monitoring of their health status and regular nucleic acid tests, the statement said.

The NHC experts have urged the local government to roll out more “pro-active” measures to boost COVID-19 vaccinations, yesterday’s statement reaffirmed. In particular, the statement quoted the NHC experts as saying that Macau should carry out “tailored” awareness campaigns on COVID-19 vaccinations for “important” groups of people such as medical workers, those working at the city’s border checkpoints, public servants, and all staff members of schools, in line with “the principle of inoculating as many people as possible”.

The NHC experts have called for a wide campaign drive on COVID-19 vaccinations across Macau with the aim of raising the city’s inoculation rate, the statement said.

Furthermore, the statement said, the NHC experts have urged the local government to raise its capability on COVID-19 emergency response. The local government should draw up a contingency plan in response to the possible occurrence of an “extremely” adverse COVID-19 situation, improve its procedures for a mass NAT drive, and constantly strengthen its training of personnel engaging in nucleic acid tests such as those who collect swabs and those who work in COVID-19 testing laboratories, the statement quoted the NHC experts as saying.

The NHC experts have also called for strengthened cooperation on COVID-19 prevention and control among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, the statement said.

‘Very precious’ suggestions

During the meeting with Shen and other NHC officials, the statement said, Lo thanked the NHC expert team for giving “very precious” suggestions on COVID-19 prevention work during its inspection visit between late last month and early this month. During the meeting, Lo said that the Macau Health Bureau has rolled out a string of measures to strengthen the city’s COVID-19 prevention work in line with the suggestions made by the NHC expert team, the statement said.

Lo noted during the meeting in Beijing that the Macau government has strengthened the implementation of its regular COVID-19 nucleic acid tests for “important” groups of people, published new guidelines on COVID-19 vaccinations and nucleic acid testing for “all staff members” in the city, and strengthened its COVID-19 measures for those working in the city’s quarantine facilities.

Lo also noted that the number of residents booking a COVID-19 jab in Macau has increased over recent days due to the local government’s strengthened measures to boost COVID-19 vaccinations, the statement said.

A nurse administers a COVID-19 jab to a schoolgirl at Choi Nong Chi Tai School on Friday, when the Health Bureau (SSM) launched its outreach COVID-19 vaccination programme for local schools. About 120 students received their novel coronavirus shots on Friday at Choi Nong Chi Tai School, the first one participating in the government’s outreach inoculation drive for schools. Health Bureau officials said on Friday that over 50 schools have joined the government’s collective COVID-19 vaccination programme, which is carried out in two ways, namely on-site inoculations on campuses or organising students to receive their jabs collectively at the Macau Forum vaccination facility. Photo: GCS

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