The Macau authorities have said they would require more time to assess the latest situation regarding a Covid-19 infection recorded in Hong Kong, before allowing quarantine-free inbound travel via the neighbouring city.
This comes after a part-time cleaner, who worked at a designated quarantine hotel in Hong Kong, was last week confirmed as having a variant form of Covid-19 considered more infectious than the norm. The case had initially been classified as a local infection of unknown source.
Macau health official Tai Wa Hou (pictured, second left) said on Monday “more time was needed” to observe the latest developments relating to the pandemic in Hong Kong. He was speaking during a briefing by the city’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre.
Health officials in Hong Kong have since reclassified the hotel cleaner’s coronavirus infection as linked to an imported one. They said genetic sequencing of a virus sample from the part-time cleaner was the same as that of viral gene fragments taken from a person arriving from Indonesia.
The last time Hong Kong recorded a community case was on June 7, meaning the city has now recoded 28 days of zero local Covid-19 infections, according to the local authorities.
The authorities of Macau and Hong Kong have planned easing travel between the two cities. The Macau authorities said previously that Hong Kong would need to have 28 consecutive days of no new cases before Macau would consider lifting its 14-day quarantine on arrival requirement for inbound visitors coming via Hong Kong.
In Monday’s briefing, health official Mr Tai said Macau would also need to liaise with the authorities in mainland China regarding any easing of travel with Hong Kong. Currently, only the mainland has a mostly quarantine-free travel bubble with Macau.
Mr Tai said Macau and mainland China “have cooperated closely” in infection-prevention and -control measures in relation to the pandemic, “having adopted uniform countermeasures” over the past few months. Therefore, he added, any relaxation of restrictions for people travelling from Hong Kong would require “in-depth communication and assessment” with the relevant mainland authorities.
Any new steps related to a travel bubble with Hong Kong “will be announced when there is a decision about the details and the date of implementation,” stated Mr Tai.
Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd suggested in a Monday note that a daily quota for visitors coming via Hong Kong to Macau quarantine-free could be limited to 3,000 during the initial phase of a proposed travel bubble between the places.
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Andrew Lee and David Katz
Analysts at brokerage Jefferies LLC