‘10+7’ strikes a balance b/w COVID-19 prevention & shortened hotel quarantine: Leong

2022-06-17 04:20     BY Tony Wong    Comment:1

Addressing yesterday’s regular press conference about Macau’s novel coronavirus situation, Leong Iek Hou, who heads the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Division of the Health Bureau (SSM), reaffirmed that the local government has decided to implement a “10+7” model, i.e., 10 days of hotel quarantine for observation plus seven days of self-health monitoring, for arrivals from Hong Kong, Taiwan and foreign countries after having studied various countries and regions’ experience in their implementation of hotel quarantine and research data worldwide, which indicate the relatively short incubation of the Omicron variant.

“After analysis, we have concluded that Macau can implement a shorter quarantine, which now lasts 10 days,” Leong pointed out. 

The new “10+7” arrangement started on Wednesday. Previously, the hotel quarantine for arrivals from Hong Kong, Taiwan and foreign countries had lasted 14 days.

Under the “10+7” measure, those practising their seven-day post-quarantine self-health monitoring have a green Macau Health Code, which means that they can commence their normal daily lives in the community after completing their 10-day hotel quarantine. However, during the seven-day period they are required to undergo five COVID-19 nucleic acid tests (NATs), on the first, second, fourth, sixth and last day of the period.

During yesterday’s press conference, Leong said that those undergoing their 10-day hotel quarantine are required to submit themselves to seven COVID-19 nucleic acid tests, on the first, second, third, fifth, seventh, ninth and last day of the period.

Leong noted that the five COVID-19 nucleic acid tests required for the seven-day period of self-health monitoring will enable the Health Bureau to detect “very rare” cases that have a relatively long incubation as early as possible.

Consequently, Leong said, the new “10+7” measure aims to strike a balance between COVID-19 prevention and shortened hotel quarantine.

In addition, Leong said, research data worldwide indicate that the Omicron has a shorter incubation than the original novel coronavirus. Most of the cumulative Omicron cases worldwide have had an incubation of between three and five days, Leong said.

Concerning Omicron cases imported into Macau, Leong said, the vast majority of the patients have been detected by a nucleic acid test (NAT) upon their arrival in the city, while some have been detected on the second or third day of their entry here. However, Leong was quick to add that the Health Bureau is unable to know the length of time between their exposure to the virus and its detection following their arrival in Macau.

Leong also underlined that the Macau government would only consider the possibility of rolling out a “7+7” model after the “10+7” model has been implemented for a certain period of time. Leong said that the local government would study whether Macau could implement a “7+7” model after summarising its own experience from the ongoing implementation of the “10+7” model, such as whether it will raise the level of COVID-19 risk to Macau.

Leong said that the government is aware that some residents want a shorter hotel quarantine period, but other residents prefer Macau to impose a hotel quarantine for a relatively long period as they believe that a longer hotel quarantine period can ensure a higher level of protection of the city against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Leong also said that the Macau government would consider purchasing COVID-19 vaccines that have been successfully developed specifically for Omicron in the future.

Leong also admitted that with the constant mutations of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 vaccines’ ability to prevent infection has been dropping. But Leong was quick to add that research data worldwide have “certainly” indicated that a booster jab can provide high protection of up to 90 percent against a serious condition or even death.

Leong also reaffirmed that those who have been fully inoculated with inactivated vaccines can have an even higher level of protection if they choose a vaccine of another kind for their booster jab.

Macau’s COVID-19 death toll remains at zero. Its tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases amounted to 83 yesterday, when its number of asymptomatic cases stood at 191. 

Macau is among just nine countries and territories in the world that have zero COVID-19 fatalities. A total of 228 countries and territories have been affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

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: GCS

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