Everyone living in Macau needs to do a rapid antigen test (RAT) for three consecutive days from Wednesday (November 30), in case of “hidden” Covid-19 infection within the local community and to lower the risk that any pool of infection might otherwise spread.
The announcement on Wednesday was from the city’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre. No mass screening via centre-based nucleic acid testing had been scheduled by the authorities as of Wednesday daytime.
A number of recent ‘positive’ cases recorded among people in Macau has been identified as close contacts of a local taxi driver, a man whose own infection had been confirmed on Monday. The local authorities have ordered a lockdown of some residential buildings and some restaurants frequented by the confirmed cases.
The Macau government is adopting Covid-19 prevention measures in line with China’s “dynamic zero-Covid” policy. To date, mainland China is the only place that has a largely quarantine-free travel arrangement with Macau.
On Wednesday the relevant authorities in Macau and the neighbouring mainland city of Zhuhai in Guangdong province said they would maintain up to and including December 7, a requirement that all people crossing between Macau and Zhuhai, hold a nucleic acid test certificate issued within 24 hours proving they are ‘negative’ for Covid-19 infection. The two sides said it was for “pandemic prevention and control needs”. The protocol had been due to expire on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for China’s National Health Commission had said at a Beijing press conference that Covid-19 control measures within the mainland should be “imposed and lifted as quickly as possible” in order to minimise inconvenience to the public.
Another senior health official, Cheng Youquan, told media at the briefing that what were termed special teams of officials were in place to curb any “excessive” Covid-19 control measures by mainland local authorities.
A number of foreign media outlets has reported from within China about protests during the past weekend in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Zhengzhou, and Chengdu calling for relaxation of China’s strict Covid-19 countermeasures.
Fitch Ratings Inc’s’ head of Greater China sovereigns, Andrew Fennell, had said in a Monday note: “China’s ‘zero-Covid’ policies – and the mobility restrictions required to implement them – have weighed heavily on the economy and elevated social tensions.”
He added: “We expect the authorities will relax the most restrictive elements of current anti-epidemic measures in 2023, such as city-wide lockdowns, which have contributed most directly to downside growth pressures.”
Mr Fennell was also cited as saying that “a full-fledged policy pivot is not in our baseline”.
He added: “We believe many restrictions will remain in place due to China’s limited levels of naturally-acquired immunity” within the community, “and relatively low Covid-19 booster coverage for the most vulnerable groups of society.”
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