Govt to also allow Indonesian maids to enter Macau again

2022-05-20 03:19     BY Tony Wong    Comment:0

The Macau government announced yesterday that Indonesian nationals who have been hired by families in Macau as domestic helpers will once again be allowed to enter the city, and applications for the new measure will start on Monday.

Leong Iek Hou, who heads the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Division of the Health Bureau (SSM), announced the new measure for Indonesian domestic helpers during yesterday’s regular press conference by the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre.

The Macau government’s ongoing programme of granting Philippine domestic helpers an exemption from its current entry ban on foreign nationals without a Macau ID card was launched on April 25. The local government announced on Wednesday that the third phase of the programme for Philippine domestic helpers will start also on Monday, according to which all families who need a domestic helper to look after any of their members, irrespective of age and health condition, can submit an application.

Leong announced yesterday that the Macau government’s ongoing programme of granting foreign domestic helpers an exemption from its entry ban on foreigners will be extended to Indonesian nationals from Monday.

As with the third phase of the programme for Philippine domestic helpers, the new programme for Indonesian domestic helpers will also have no restrictions on the age and health condition requiring the assistance of a domestic helper, according to Leong.

All the other application requirements and procedures for the new programme for Indonesian domestic helpers will be the same as the ongoing programme for their Philippine counterparts, Leong said.

Yesterday’s announcement means that those who are being looked after by a Philippine or Indonesian domestic helper, and those living with them – except those aged below three, must have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or they must hold a doctor’s certificate confirming their unsuitability for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Currently, those aged below three are not covered by the Macau government’s COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Normally those vaccinated against COVID-19 require two jabs to develop basic full immunity, i.e., if they receive a two-dose vaccine.

Many of the COVID-19 vaccines that are being used worldwide are two-dose vaccines. Some COVID-19 vaccines are single or three-dose vaccines.

As with all other arrivals from foreign countries, the Philippine or Indonesian domestic helpers must have been fully inoculated against COVID-19 at least 14 days prior, i.e., having developed basic full immunity. Those who received the last required shot of their basic-full-immunity COVID-19 vaccinations over seven months ago will also have to present a certificate confirming that they have received at least one COVID-19 booster jab, when boarding their Macau-bound flight.

Like all the other arrivals from foreign countries, the Philippine and Indonesian domestic helpers who have been granted permission to enter Macau will also be subject to the Macau government’s current requirement of 14 days in hotel quarantine plus seven days of “self-health management” upon their arrival here.

Leong also pledged that the Macau Health Bureau will constantly assess whether domestic helpers from other foreign countries, such as Vietnam, can also be covered by its entry ban exemptions.

Leong also said that the government has so far received 20 applications for the programme for Philippine domestic helpers since its launch. Leong said that eight of the 20 applications have been approved, while eight other applications have been rejected, and the remaining four cases were still being assessed.

Ongoing relaxation of entry curbs on foreigners

Leong underlined that the local government has been gradually relaxing its entry restrictions on foreign nationals without a Macau ID card in line with the latest developments in the COVID-19 pandemic. Leong noted that in the public interest, the local government has always been granting entry ban exemptions to certain foreigners who are professionals whom Macau needs and lacks, such as special technicians for the maintenance and repairs of important infrastructure facilities. The local government has now also allowed certain foreign domestic helpers to enter Macau for families who need a domestic helper. Leong underlined that for the time being the local government will not consider allowing family members of foreign domestic helpers to enter Macau.

Leong also said that since the COVID-19 pandemic, 201 foreigners who are family members of local residents have been permitted to enter Macau from the mainland, while 28 such foreigners have been allowed to enter Macau from Hong Kong.

Foreigners currently can apply to enter Macau from the mainland or Hong Kong under certain special circumstances.

Leong said yesterday that a possible measure allowing foreigners who are spouses of local residents to enter Macau directly from foreign countries “is among” the local government’s plan to further relax its entry restrictions on foreigners.

9,600 BioNTech jabs for kids have arrived, inoculations to start on Tuesday

Meanwhile, Leong also announced that 9,600 doses of BioNTech mRNA vaccine specifically for children aged between 5 and 11 were delivered to Macau yesterday afternoon, and the administration of the doses will start on Tuesday. Potential vaccinees can book a jab from 10 a.m. on Monday, Leong said.

The administration of the new BioNTech mRNA vaccine for children aged between 5 and 11 will also be carried out at the four vaccination facilities where general BioNTech doses for those aged 12 or over are administered, namely the blood sample collection room of the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, the Ocean Gardens Health Centre, the Ilha Verde Health Centre, and the Macau Forum complex in Zape, Leong said.

The Macau Forum inoculation facility offers both of the COVID-19 vaccines currently available in Macau, namely Sinopharm inactivated and BioNTech mRNA.

Macau has 18 regular COVID-19 vaccination facilities. All other facilities are only used for Sinopharm inoculations.

4 asymptomatic COVID-19 cases imported from HK & overseas raise Macau’s tally to 126

Meanwhile, the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre yesterday announced four COVID-19 positive cases imported from Hong Kong and three foreign countries, raising Macau’s asymptomatic tally to 126.

All four patients are local residents, who comprise a 51-year-old man returning from Hong Kong, a 21-year-old woman returning from the United States, a 31-year-old woman returning from South Korea, and a 73-year-old man returning from Portugal.

Macau’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases remains at 82.

Meanwhile, the centre yesterday also announced three COVID-19 “re-positive” cases imported from Hong Kong, South Korea and the US. All of them are local residents, a 67-year-old man, a 34-year-old woman and a 19-year-old woman.

A COVID-19 “re-positive” case means that a person has tested positive for the novel coronavirus again in a nucleic acid test (NAT) after having previously been infected with COVID-19 and recovered.

Moreover, the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre announced in a statement last night that from 00:00 tomorrow, those departing for Macau from all foreign countries will only have to present a nucleic acid test (NAT) certificate confirming a negative COVID-19 result valid for 48 hours prior to boarding a flight en route to Macau, a relaxation from the current situation in which travellers departing from any of 22 “extremely high-risk countries” are subject to much stricter NAT requirements compared to those departing from all other foreign countries. 

Leong Iek Hou, who heads the Health Bureau’s (SSM) Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Division, addresses yesterday’s press conference about the city’s COVID-19 situation. Photo: Tony Wong

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