Macau reports 4 more COVID-19 cases, community risk ‘still manageable’: Health Bureau

2022-11-29 03:45     BY Tony Wong    Comment:1

Macau reported four COVID-19 cases yesterday, a taxi driver, his grandson who is a schoolboy and lives with him, and a couple who are relatives of the cabbie, while the local government acknowledged yesterday that Macau is now facing an increased risk of the occurrence of COVID-19 community transmissions but insisted that the risk level was “still manageable”.

The boy is a F3 student of Pui Ching Middle School, which runs kindergarten, primary and secondary classes on the same campus located in Avenida de Horta e Costa. The school has not suspended classes.

The government announced yesterday that while the schoolboy’s classmates have been transferred to quarantine for medical observation, other students and teachers at the school are not required to undergo quarantine. However, students and teachers of the same teaching building, i.e., the secondary school section, are now required to undergo four COVID-19 nucleic acid tests (NATs) in five days from today, while students and teachers of the other teaching buildings of the school, i.e., the primary school section and kindergarten, are required to undergo three nucleic acid tests in the five-day period.

They can continue to attend classes, but those of the teaching building where the COVID-19-infected student attended classes will have their Macau Health Code turn yellow during the five-day period, while the Macau Health Code colour of those of the other teaching buildings will stay green.

The four COVID-19 cases and various special COVID-19 measures in response to the situation were announced in statements yesterday afternoon from the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre, which also convened a special press conference in the evening where Health Bureau official Leong Iek Hou announced further details of the four cases and the latest COVID-19 situation.

The first case announced is a 74-year-old cabbie, who self-tested positive for COVID-19 in a rapid antigen test (RAT) and uploaded his positive result onto the Health Bureau’s platform yesterday morning. The Health Bureau then transferred him to the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre for a follow-up nucleic acid test, where he came up with a positive COVID-19 result.

According to yesterday’s announcement, the cabbie, who has come down with a slight sore throat, told the Health Bureau that on Friday or Saturday he picked up four passengers who were tourists from the mainland. The cabbie told the bureau that one of the four passengers was coughing during the journey.

The Health Bureau indicated yesterday that the cabbie was likely infected by the passenger who was coughing.

The second case announced yesterday is the cabbie’s 14-year-old grandson who lives with him. After his grandfather was diagnosed with COVID-19, the boy was also transferred to the public hospital for a follow-up nucleic acid test, where he also came up with a positive result. The boy has also come down with a slight sore throat.

The third and fourth cases announced yesterday are a couple who are relatives of the cabbie, a 60-year-old man and his 47-year-old wife. According to yesterday’s announcement, the couple visited the cabbie’s home on Saturday, and had a meal with the cabbie on Sunday, because of which they were classified as COVID-19 close contacts yesterday morning. Consequently, the couple were also transferred to the public hospital for a follow-up nucleic acid test, where they also registered a positive result. Neither of them has come down with any COVID-19 symptoms.

The couple – a retiree and a housewife – had visited Zhuhai in recent days. They tested negative for COVID-19 in daily nucleic acid tests between Thursday and Sunday.

All four COVID-19 patients or carriers are local residents. They have meanwhile been transferred to the Health Bureau’s Public Health Clinical Centre in Coloane for isolation treatment.

The Health Bureau has classified all four cases as connected to imported cases.

The building where the cabbie and his grandson live, and the building where the couple live, were locked down yesterday afternoon, i.e., after having been listed as Red Code Zones. The two buildings’ residents are barred from leaving their homes and are required to undergo regular NATs and RATs during their respective lockdown periods, which are provisionally slated to end on Sunday.

According to yesterday’s announcement, the cabbie and his grandson live in Kuan Wai Building in Rua do Almirante Costa Cabral. Their building is located around 500 metres from Pui Ching Middle School. The couple live in Green Field Building, which is near Kuan Wai Building, in Rua de Afonso de Albuquerque.

In addition, two restaurants that had been visited by the taxi driver were also locked down yesterday afternoon.

The Education and Youth Development Bureau (DSEDJ) also announced yesterday that for the time being Pui Ching Middle School is barred from holding any activities that involve students from different classes being together. The school is also required to suspend any activities where students cannot wear a facemask, such as sports activities.

During yesterday evening’s press conference, Leong said that the sources of the four cases’ infection have been clearly identified, because of which for the time being the Health Bureau has concluded that the level of the COVID-19 risk to the community is still manageable.

Leong also said that although the couple had visited Zhuhai in recent days, the Health Bureau has concluded that they were more likely to have been infected by the cabbie, because the couple tested negative for COVID-19 every day between Thursday and Sunday.

Leong also said that the cabbie and his grandson, who both have come down a slight sore throat, have received three and two COVID-19 jabs respectively. Leong did not reveal the couple’s vaccination status. 

Meanwhile, the Transport Bureau (DSAT) announced last night that all taxi drivers in Macau who are working are now required to self-test for COVID-19 with an RAT kit every day. The bureau said that it will provide cabbies with free RAT kits. The bureau also urged cabbies to receive their fourth COVID-19 jab as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the Social Affairs Bureau (IAS) said in a statement late last night that due to the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, from today all retirement and rehabilitation home staff members and visitors need to have a 24-hour nucleic acid test (NAT) result, or they have to self-test (rapid antigen test) on the day of entering the premises. 

The Health Bureau late last night announced the same measure for all visitors to private and public hospitals and public health centres. 

As of yesterday, according to official data, Macau’s COVID-19 tally of confirmed and asymptomatic cases stood at 799 and 1,926 respectively, of which 790 and 1,876 had meanwhile been cured. The COVID-19 death toll remained at six.

A man carrying a boy walks past Kuan Wai Building on Rua do Almirante Costa Cabral yesterday afternoon, which was locked down after a cabbie and his grandson living there were diagnosed with COVID-19 yesterday morning – Photo: Maria Cheang Ut Meng

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