Casino properties in Malaysia and Singapore are stepping up precautionary measures for their guests and staff amid the reported spread from China of a newly-identified coronavirus.
In a Wednesday notice, Resorts World Genting – a venue promoted by Genting Malaysia Bhd and which is Malaysia’s only casino resort (pictured) – said there was no record to date of “anyone in the resort” being diagnosed with sickness linked to the novel coronavirus, and the property “continues to operate as normal”.
The infection problem – that can lead to viral pneumonia – started in Wuhan in Hubei province in mainland China, and was first publicised in December. The issue is already hurting tourism to Macau for the current Chinese New Year break. Seven imported cases from Wuhan had been reported in Macau as of Wednesday. The lunar new year is typically a peak business period for the city’s casino resorts.
Resorts World Genting stated in its Wednesday notice that infrared technology for temperature screening of customers and staff had been introduced throughout the property. At the complex – outside Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, and which is said to house two medical clinics – a “robust cleaning programme” applied with frequency had also been put in place, the notice said.
“Lift buttons throughout the resort have been sealed and frequency of cleaning enhanced,” it added, echoing a practice applied at Macau resorts previously.
As of Wednesday, Malaysia’s Health Ministry had confirmed a total of seven people – all Chinese nationals – as having been infected with the Wuhan-linked coronavirus, according to multiple local media outlets.
Malaysia’s government stopped – with effect from Monday – offering visitor visas for all Chinese that are residents of Hubei province, the prime minister’s office said in a Monday press statement.
In neighbouring Singapore, that city-state’s two casino complexes – Resorts World Sentosa promoted by Genting Singapore Ltd; and Marina Bay Sands, promoted by a unit of United States-based Las Vegas Sands Corp – say they have respectively increased the frequency of disinfection work in response to the coronavirus alert.
Marina Bay Sands noted in a statement that temperature screening was being deployed at the property. Staff at the casino resort complex are also said to have been trained in what the management called “response and mitigation measures”, such as isolating from crowds anyone suspected of carrying infection.
As of Wednesday, Singapore’s Ministry of Health had confirmed a total of 10 people infected with the novel coronavirus. One of the cases – as noted by the city-state on Tuesday – involved a 35-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan who had stayed at Marina Bay Sands prior to his hospital admission on January 24. But the ministry also noted that the risk of him having passed the infection to so-called transient contacts – such as fellow passengers on public transport or other people in public spaces – was assessed as “low”.
In face of the virus alert, the Singapore authorities have already suspended issuance of any form of entry visa to those with Chinese passports issued in Hubei province. This restriction was enforced starting from Wednesday. Other limitations in effect from the same day include a ban on entry to Singapore or transit via the city for any non-Chinese national that had been in Hubei within the previous 14 days.
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"The casinos have to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The decision [to suspend casino operations] is up to the government. As of now, we don’t have any plan to change the existing regulations"
Lei Wai Nong
Macau Secretary for Economy and Finance