Renovation worker in COVID-19 cluster possibly caught virus from security staff cluster on bus: SSM

2021-10-06 03:35     BY Tony Wong    Comment:0

Novel coronavirus tally reaches 75

One more non-resident renovation worker was confirmed as a COVID-19 patient yesterday, bringing Macau’s total number of novel coronavirus cases to 75.

Yesterday’s new case brought the total of the COVID-19 renovation worker cluster to four as of last night, three of whom were confirmed on Monday.

During yesterday’s regular press conference by the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre, Health Bureau (SSM) Control of Communicable Diseases and Surveillance of Diseases Department Coordinator Leong Iek Hou said that her bureau has discovered that the 74th COVID-19 patient, one of the renovation workers, was possibly infected with the novel coronavirus last month on a public bus by a Nepali, one of the six-member Delta variant security staff cluster – which was confirmed last month as Macau’s 65th, 66th, 68th, 69th, 70th and 71st cases. The six patients comprise five Nepalis and a mainlander.

The six-member quarantine hotel security staff cluster has been classified as “connected to an imported case” – a local resident from Turkey who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on September 24.

The Health Bureau has said that the first two patients of the security staff cluster were apparently infected by the local resident holding Turkish nationality who had been quarantined at the Golden Crown China Hotel in Taipa.

The first two patients of the COVID-19 security staff cluster were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease on September 25, while the other four were diagnosed with the disease on Tuesday last week.

Residents queue near the Ruins of St Paul’s for a COVID-19 test at the Colégio Mateus Ricci school, one of the government’s testing stations under its ongoing mass nucleic acid testing (NAT) drive, last night. Photo: Maria Cheang Ut Meng

Yesterday’s confirmation of the new COVID-19 patient, a Vietnamese woman, came after three non-resident renovation workers were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease on Monday – two male mainlanders and a Vietnamese man who were renovating the same flat. The Health Bureau confirmed the first patient on Monday morning after he tested positive for COVID-19 in a nucleic acid test (NAT) that he underwent at Kiang Wu Hospital’s regular NAT station the day before, while the other two patients were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease on Monday night after having been classified as having been in close contact with the first patient. The three COVID-19 patients confirmed on Monday are Macau 72nd, 73rd and 74th cases.

According to a statement by the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre yesterday morning, the latest and 75th  COVID-19 patient is a 42-year-old female non-resident worker from Vietnam. She worked with the 72nd, 73rd and 74th patients on a renovation project in a residential flat in Kam Do Lei Fa Yun building (金多利花園) in Rua de Pedro Coutinho (高地烏街).

The statement said that after having been classified by the centre as a “close contact” of the three patients, the woman underwent a nucleic acid test which came up a positive yesterday.

The woman was inoculated twice against COVID-19 with China’s Sinopharm vaccine on August 26 and Thursday last week.

According to the centre, the woman lived in San Mei On Building (新美安大廈) in Iao Hon district until her isolation treatment yesterday.

The patient, who is asymptomatic, is undergoing isolation treatment at the Public Health Clinical Centre in Coloane.

In response, the government yesterday imposed a lockdown on the building where the latest COVID-19 patient lived until her isolation treatment yesterday.

Those living in the lockdown area (red code zone) are barred from leaving their homes during the lockdown period. They are required to be tested for COVID-19 every day during the period.

‘Touched the same bus handrail’

During yesterday’s press conference, Leong said that the Health Bureau has confirmed that the 72nd patient – the first one of the COVID-19 renovation worker cluster – has been infected with the Delta variant. Leong said that the findings of viral genome sequencing by her bureau have indicated that the viral genetic sequences of the Turkish imported case, the six cases of the security staff cluster, and the 72nd case are 100 percent identical, which she said means that all of them were “from the same source in terms of genetics”.

According to Leong, the Health Bureau will carry out viral genome sequencing for the other three cases of the renovation worker cluster so as to confirm whether they were also “from the same source in terms of genetics”.

According to Leong, the findings of her bureau’s epidemiological investigation show that the 66th patient (one of the Nepali security guards) and the 74th patient (the Vietnamese man) were standing next to each other for around 14 minutes on a route No. 25 public bus on September 24. Leong said that they also touched the same area on a handrail on the bus during the trip.

Consequently, Leong said that the Health Bureau has determined that the Vietnamese renovation worker was possibly infected with COVID-19 by the Nepali security guard during the bus journey.

NAT cert for all departures valid for only 24 hours

Meanwhile, the Macau government announced yesterday that from 00:00 today all those departing from Macau, including those using the local airport, must present a nucleic acid test (NAT) certificate confirming a negative COVID-19 result valid for just 24 hours.

The measure was announced by an executive order by Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng published in the Official Gazette (BO) yesterday.

The new measure announced yesterday came after the Macau government tightened the validity of the NAT negative result for all departures to just 48 hours from the previous seven days on September 25 shortly after the confirmation of the quarantine hotel security staff cluster.

Leong told yesterday’s press conference that the local government has decided to further tighten the validity of the NAT negative result for all departures based on a responsible attitude, with the aim of preventing the possible spread of the novel coronavirus outside Macau.

Meanwhile, the centre announced last night that as of 9 p.m. yesterday, 358,488 people had had their swabs collected during the ongoing three-day mass NAT drive, which is slated to end at 9 p.m. tomorrow, 202,861 of which had their result available – all of them were negative.

The Health Bureau has urged residents to participate in the mass NAT drive within the first 48 hours of the programme, even though the drive is scheduled to last 72 hours, with the aim of enabling all results to be available earlier so the bureau would be able to complete its risk assessment of Macau’s latest COVID-19 situation earlier and, if needed, roll out new COVID-19 prevention and control measures accordingly.

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