Guangdong-HK-Macau entry curbs can only be lifted after COVID-19 vaccine or medicine: Lo

2020-07-02 03:44     Comment:2

Addressing yesterday’s press conference about Macau’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, Alvis Lo Iek Long, a clinical director of the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, admitted that border entry curbs among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau can only be completely lifted after a COVID-19 vaccine or a specific medicine to treat the disease has been successfully developed.

Lo pointed out that the development of the COVID-19 pandemic is “full of uncertainties”, and many new cases are constantly confirmed in many countries every day. Lo said that based on the current situation, the COVID-19 pandemic can only be brought under control after a COVID-19 vaccine or medicine has been successfully developed.

Lo pointed out that after a vaccine has been developed, it would have to undergo animal testing, after which it would have to go through clinical trials on humans in three phases. Lo said that Zhong Nanshan, the nation’s renowned respiratory disease expert, told Macau health officials during his working visit to the city earlier this week that five COVID-19 vaccines that are under development in the mainland are currently undergoing the second phase of clinical trials.

Lo pointed out that Macau has not confirmed any new local COVID-19 cases for over 90 days, which is “a very long time”, showing that the local government’s fight against COVID-19 has been successful. Lo said that therefore the Macau government has been constantly discussing with its Guangdong, Zhuhai and Hong Kong counterparts the possible “conditional” relaxation of the current restrictions on cross-border movement of people between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau in a “limited” way.

Alvis Lo Iek Long, one of the three clinical directors of the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, addresses yesterday’s press conference at the Health Bureau (SSM) about the city’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.Photo: GCS

Lo said that travel within Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau could only completely return to normal– before the COVID-19 epidemic emerged early this year – after a COVID-19 vaccine or medicine has been developed. “The restoration of completely free movement of people [around the three regions], like before, will only depend on whether a scientific breakthrough, namely a [COVID-19] vaccine or medicine, is achieved, in which case all travellers can cross the borders [among the three regions] without the need to present a nucleic acid test [NAT] certificate,” Lo said, admitting that it would still take “a period of time” before this situation could be realised.

Since March 25, all those – both Hong Kong and non-Hong Kong residents – arriving in Hong Kong from Macau or Taiwan must go into 14-day mandatory quarantine. The Hong Kong government had already imposed the same quarantine measure for those arriving from the mainland on February 8.

Also since March 25, Macau residents as well as mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan residents who have been to Hong Kong or Taiwan within the 14 days prior to their entry into Macau must undergo 14 days of quarantine and medical observation at one of the government’s “quarantine hotels” upon their arrival here.

All travellers arriving in Guangdong from overseas as well as Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan have had to undergo 14 days of “concentrated” quarantine there since March 27.

Lo pointed out that border entry curbs between Macau and Zhuhai have been gradually relaxed since the implementation of the Guangdong government’s quarantine measure, such as quarantine waivers granted by the Zhuhai government to certain groups of Macau-Zhuhai cross-border commuters, and the special measure to allow Macau residents who need to cross the Macau-Zhuhai border for official purposes, business activities or other special reasons to apply for exemption from the 14-day quarantine requirement.

No new case in 5 days

Lo also pointed out that Macau has not confirmed a new COVID-19 case for five consecutive days. Among Macau’s now 46 COVID-19 cases, 44 have been classified as imported, while two have been classified as cases connected to imported ones. Macau has been spared a community outbreak and local transmission of the highly infectious disease.

The Macau government announced in a statement on Monday night that on invitation from Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng, Zhong came to Macau earlier that day and shared the mainland’s COVID-19 prevention and control experience and COVID-19 treatment with Macau’s medical professionals during a seminar in Government Headquarters. According to the statement, Zhong praised Macau’s achievement in which no deaths have been reported out of its total of 46 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Zhong also reminded that Macau cannot let its guard down in its COVID-19 prevention and control work because no Macau residents are immune to the disease as no COVID-19 vaccine has been successfully developed.

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  • visitors2020070500:332020-07-05 00:33

    When asked about the government’s plan to amend its guidelines when residents should wear a facemask, the Health Bureau’s (SSM) Control of Communicable Diseases and Surveillance of Diseases Department Coordinator Leong Iek Hou said that while her bureau had constantly been drafting the amendments, the drafting has been suspended due to the COVID-19 epidemic situation in Beijing. Leong said that her bureau has now decided to keep monitoring the possible impact of the Beijing COVID-19 epidemic on Macau and its neighbouring regions first before resuming the drafting of the amendments. Leong said that her bureau will announce its relaxed new guidelines on wearing facemasks once the draft has been completed.

  • visitors2020070502:102020-07-05 02:10

    Lo also said during the press conference that the government would constantly evaluate whether its facemask purchase scheme should continue based on a number of factors, such as the development of the COVID-19 epidemic in Macau and elsewhere, and the supply and price of facemasks in the private market. Lo said that if the government decides to discontinue the scheme, it would make an announcement at least two rounds of the scheme in advance. Each round lasts 10 days.