Macau’s Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ao Ieong U, said Wednesday that the SAR government is asking China’s National Health Commission (NHC) to send an expert team to Macau to discuss implementation of a quarantine-free policy between Macau and Hong Kong.
The request comes amid extensive delays in reopening the Macau-Hong Kong borders, despite Macau having recently confirmed plans to implement a blue health code system which would allow Hong Kong visitors to skip mandatory quarantine measures.
The Macau government has long stated it would remove such quarantine measures once Hong Kong recorded 28 consecutive days without any local cases of COVID-19. By 21 July, Hong Kong had gone 40 days but quarantine measures remain in place with Macau showing extreme caution in reopening.
According to Ao Ieong U, the NHC experts will assess the city’s capacity to counter any outbreak of COVID-19. Not only will this advance efforts to resuming normal boundary-crossing movement between Macau and Hong Kong, it could facilitate further convenience at boundary crossings between Macau and the mainland. However, the exact arrival date of NHC experts has not yet been confirmed.
Meanwhile, a new batch of 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm has been delivered to Macau with the hope of boosting vaccination rates. Daily vaccinations have plummeted, from a peak of 10,000 a day to just 2,000 more recently.
“The vaccination ratio for the Macau population is around 40%, but the ideal ratio for building herd immunity should be around 80%; so the number in Macau is far below that,” Ao said.