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Peak of local students returning to Macau is over: health chief

2020-03-24 04:01     Comment:0

Addressing yesterday evening’s daily press conference about Macau’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, Health Bureau (SSM) Director Lei Chin Ion said he believed that the peak of local students enrolled overseas returning to Macau is over, adding that, on average, fewer COVID-19 cases per day could be confirmed in the future than in the past few days, as increasingly fewer locals studying overseas would return to Macau.

Since last week, more and more local students enrolled overseas have been returning to Macau and going into 14-day quarantine at government-designated hotels, which has compelled the government to open more and more so-called quarantine hotels. By last night, Macau had eight quarantine hotels – three on the peninsula, four in Taipa/Cotai and one in Coloane.

The health chief’s remarks came after Macau confirmed two new COVID-19 cases yesterday morning – Macau’s 23rd and 24th cases – and both patients are local students who have returned to Macau from overseas. The local government confirmed one more new COVID-19 case last night – a non-resident worker from Indonesia – Macau’s 25th case. Including the three new cases confirmed yesterday, Macau has confirmed 25 COVID-19 cases since January 22, when the first case – a tourist from Wuhan – was diagnosed with the highly infectious disease.

After having not confirmed a new COVID-19 case for 39 consecutive days between February 5 and March 14, Macau has confirmed 15 new cases since last Sunday (March 15), all of them imported. The 15 new patients include eight local students enrolled overseas.

Macau’s previous last two COVID-19 cases, the 9th and 10th cases, were confirmed on February 4. All of the previous 10 COVID-19 patients – seven tourists from Wuhan and three locals – have been discharged from hospital, with the last one – a 64-year-old local woman – discharged on March 6.

8 cases are students

During yesterday evening’s press conference at the bureau adjacent to the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, Lei said that 866 local students enrolled overseas have so far returned to Macau, and eight of them have so far been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease – 0.9 percent of the total number of the students who have returned to the city.

The local government’s special measure to provide Macau residents who have arrived at Hong Kong’s airport from foreign countries with transport to Macau will run until next Tuesday (March 31).

Inês Chan Lou, who heads the Licensing and Inspection Department of the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO), said yesterday that 1,674 Macau residents have so far registered for the special transport measure – which started last Tuesday in collaboration with the Hong Kong government, adding that as of Sunday the Macau government had transported 990 of them to Macau on special buses via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB).


Health Bureau (SSM) Director Lei Chin Ion addresses yesterday’s press conference at the bureau about the city’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.     Photo: GCS

Chan said that up to 90 percent of the Macau residents who join the special transport measure are local students returning from overseas.

Lei said that in the past few days fewer local students who plan to return to Macau from overseas have signed up for the special transport measure than previously, adding he believed that the peak of local students returning to Macau is over, and therefore, on average, fewer COVID-19 cases per day would be confirmed than in the past few days.

Lei underlined that the local government has come up with a contingency plan to tackle the possible scenario in which more local students who have returned to Macau would be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease, reaffirming that the government is confident that it has the capacity to cope with the situation. The health chief pointed out that many of the new patients were found to have COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival at the city’s border checkpoints or during their quarantine at government-designated hotels, meaning that they did not have any impact on the local community. He said this proved that the local government’s current epidemic prevention measures are effective.

23rd case

The government’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre announced Macau’s 23rd COVID-19 case in a statement yesterday morning, which identified the patient as a 12-year-old local boy studying in the United Kingdom. The boy took Cathay Pacific flight CX254 on March 19 from London to Hong Kong where he arrived on the following day. He returned to Macau on a special bus arranged by the Macau government via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB) and upon arrival here was transferred to the Grand Coloane Resort – a designated hotel – for 14-days medical surveillance required for all those arriving from a foreign country. The patient came down with a fever on Sunday and was taken to the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre where he tested positive for the novel coronavirus yesterday.

24th case

The centre announced Macau’s 24th COVID-19 case in another statement yesterday morning, which identified the patient as a 21-year-old local male Macau resident studying in the United Kingdom, who took Cathay Pacific flight CX256 on Saturday from London to Hong Kong where he arrived on the following day. He returned to Macau on a special bus arranged by the Macau government via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB). Upon arrival at the Macau checkpoint he told Health Bureau officials that he had had a fever in the past 14 days. He was taken to the public hospital where he tested positive for the novel coronavirus yesterday.

25th case

The centre announced Macau’s 25th COVID-19 case in a statement last night, according to which the patient is a 41-year-old non-resident worker from Indonesia who is the husband of the 14th case and father of the 17th case, an 11-year-old boy. The man took Cathay Pacific flight CX718 with his wife and son from Jakarta to Hong Kong on March 17. The family arrived in Macau by bus via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB). While he tested negative twice for COVID-19 last week, he tested positive for the highly infectious disease yesterday.

The three new patients have been transferred to the public hospital’s isolation ward for treatment.

232 isolation beds

Meanwhile, Lo Iek Long, a clinical director of the public hospital, said during yesterday’s press conference that the public hospital and the bureau’s Public Health Clinical Centre in Coloane together have a total of 232 isolation beds. Lo said that previously the public hospital and the quarantine facility in Coloane had 180 isolation beds, and in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, the government has converted some beds in the hospital and the quarantine facility – including 12 intensive care unit (ICU) beds – into isolation beds so that now there are 232 in total.

Lo also said that each isolation room can have up to two COVID-19 patients.
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