Steps in place to respond to Wuhan pneumonia cases

The Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ms Ao Ieong U, chairs a cross-departmental meeting to discuss local preparedness in response to a cluster of pneumonia cases being reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province.

The Government has taken multiple steps to monitor developments and respond locally to reports of a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, Hubei Province. The steps were in order to minimise the risk of such cases having any impact on Macao.

Macao issued on Sunday (5 January) a Level III alert in response to the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak. The alert level meant the risk of public emergency was at moderate level, indicating public health factors – of either environmental or technological origin – requiring firm follow-up action by the local authorities.

The alert level was issued after a cross-departmental meeting chaired on Sunday by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ms Ao Ieong U. The meeting was convened to discuss and evaluate the risk of Wuhan pneumonia cases affecting Macao and to consider further steps against any local outbreak of disease.

In the cross-departmental meeting, Secretary Ao Ieong outlined a directive from the Chief Executive, Mr Ho Iat Seng, urging all Government departments to pay the greatest attention to – and exercise vigilance regarding – developments relating to the viral outbreak.

The Government appealed to the public not to panic regarding the disease reports. Nonetheless, a heightened level of awareness should be displayed by members of the public and greater attention given to the maintenance of personal and environmental hygiene.

In view of the viral outbreak, Government departments would take the following steps:

- the Macao Customs Service would further deploy temperature-monitoring equipment at checkpoint facilities, and work in concert with the Municipal Affairs Bureau to combat illegal import of animal-based foodstuffs;

- the Municipal Affairs Bureau would step up effort regarding inspection and quarantine work; combine its effort with that of the Customs Service in order to strengthen efforts to prevent illegal importation and sale of animals; and strengthen hygiene maintenance in public spaces;

- the Macao Government Tourism Office would remain in close contact with the tourism sector, including disseminating the latest guidelines related with this matter and assisting the Health Bureau with provision – where required – of training for employees in the tourism sector;

- the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau and the Health Bureau would continue to provide assistance to casinos for installation of temperature-monitoring equipment at venue entrances of their properties. Some casinos had already installed such equipment to detect whether either any employees or any patrons might have fever;

- the Government Information Bureau would issue in a timely manner latest news regarding the viral outbreak and information about measures for members of the public to take especially in the travelling during Lunar New Year holidays; and

- the Civil Aviation Authority would continue to assist the Health Bureau to monitor the respective body temperature of inbound tourists at the airport; strengthen anti-epidemic drills; and optimise where necessary relevant procedures in dealing with any outbreak of disease.

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