Macau health authorities have promised to implement a strict “closed-loop” system to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 into the community when a large number of residents arrive home from overseas this week.
A total of 115 residents will return from 13 foreign countries on Thursday, with concerns they could introduce new imported cases of the virus to Macau. The flight will arrive at the Macau International Airport on Thursday night, with passengers having come from several high risk countries including the United Kingdom, Portugal, Switzerland, Ireland, the United States and Japan.
Most of the residents are students under 25 years of age. All will be required to provide a negative virus test certificate obtained within 72 hours of their departure to Macau, and all will undergo further rapid COVID-19 tests upon arrival.
The results of the rapid testing will be known within two hours and anyone who tests positive will immediately be sent to the hospital. The others will be picked up by special shuttle buses and quarantined on specific floors at the Grand Coloane Resort for 21 days where they will be tested at least four times during their stay.
“We will implement closed-loop management on the entire process to prevent any possible spread within the local community,” said coordinator of the Disease Prevention and Surveillance Center, Leong Iek Hou.
“Since they are back from those high-risk areas and will be transferred via several international airports, it’s believed that the possibility of reporting new imported COVID-19 cases is not low after our evaluations. It is very likely that COVID-19 strains will be reported among them.”
However, health officials emphasized that any new imported cases will not spread within the local community and the interactions between Macau and mainland China will not be impacted.
Macau has not had any new COVID-19 cases since June, and no locally transmitted cases since February 2020. There have been just 46 cases since the start of the pandemic, including returned travelers in hotel quarantine. There have been no deaths in Macau due to COVID-19.