Macau’s new Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, has floated the possibility of temporarily closing down some of the SAR’s casinos should suspicion of multiple cases of the Wuhan Coronavirus emerge.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday as fears over the rapid spread of the virus continue to grow, Ho answered a targeted question over the prospect of closing gaming venues by stating, “Honestly, from the experience of SARS, if the situation is so serious, no-one will go to a casino.”
While the closure of casinos would represent a dramatic escalation of preventative measures following the first confirmed case of the virus in Macau earlier this week, Ho nevertheless took the extraordinary step of canceling official Chinese New Year celebrations in the city in order to “reduce the risk of propagation” of the coronavirus disease.
Cancelled activities include the traditional CNY parade and fireworks display, with the government also recommending local companies and associations cancel any upcoming private functions. Among those to quickly do so were gaming operator SJM, which on Thursday cancelled its annual Lunar New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner.
The extreme measures were implemented after a second case of the so-called Wuhan virus was detected in Macau. A 66-year-old tourist from Wuhan city was taken to a local hospital after border control staff found him to be feverish. A total of 10 people were being kept under observation in Macau at the time of writing.
Measures affecting Macau’s casinos include an obligation for staff in contact with customers to use masks to prevent infection and concentrating Wuhan and Hubei visitors on the same floor of hotels to help track the evolution of the disease.
As previously reported by IAG, Macau’s casino operators have been performing temperature tests at 405 guest entrances and 47 employee entrances.
As of Thursday it was reported that 18 people have died and more than 630 diagnosed with the Wuhan virus.
Macau’s Chief Executive also announced on Thursday the purchase of 20 million face masks in order to maintain a stable supply. The masks will be acquired from foreign countries not affected by the disease, with Chinese production suffering from local demand.