The Government has sufficient legal powers to take any steps necessary to prevent an outbreak of disease in the community. In that regard, there is no need for either fresh or urgent legislation by way of response to the pneumonia cases of unknown origin that have occurred in Wuhan, Hubei Province.
Macao’s Law No. 2/2004 on the Prevention, Control and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, and Decree-Law No. 81/99/M, vest power in the Health Bureau to take necessary measures either to prevent or eliminate factors or situations which might endanger or cause harm to the health of individuals or of the community. Such measures include compulsory isolation and medical observation for people suspected of carrying infectious disease.
The Government is paying great attention to the latest developments concerning the Wuhan pneumonia cases and has taken several measures to minimise the risk of such cases having any impact on Macao.
As of Tuesday (7 January) there was no report of any case of illness in Macao being linked to the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak.
During the period from 5pm on 6 January (Monday) to 5pm on 7 January (Tuesday), there were no reports of any Macao people returning from recent trips to Wuhan and complaining of illness.
In the period from 1 January to 7 January (Tuesday) inclusive, the Government was informed by local medical institutions about a total of eight illness cases, each involving a patient with fever and respiratory problems, and that had been in Wuhan in the previous 14 days. Only one of those eight patients – a 44-year-old female – was still as of Tuesday being held in isolation in hospital. Following treatment, her fever has diminished and she has been described as being in a ‘stable’ condition. The other seven patients have been diagnosed as having either influenza or a cold.
The Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region has been keeping in close contact with the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China regarding the latest developments concerning the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak.
In addition, Macao has taken multiple steps to optimise local preparedness regarding response to the viral outbreak. The steps include: a uniform level of training – in relation to control of infectious disease and procedures of handling suspicious cases – for medical professionals; and ensuring there is sufficient reserve supply of medication, medical consumables, and equipment, as well as adequate facilities to accommodate related work.
Since 1 January, all transport passengers travelling from Wuhan to Macao have been required to undergo on arrival temperature screening. Since 2 January such travellers have also been required to complete a health declaration form. With effect from 4 January, vehicle drivers and any of their passengers arriving in Macao via either the Border Gate Checkpoint, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the Zhuhai-Macao Crossborder Industrial Zone Checkpoint, or the Lotus Flower Bridge Checkpoint, have been required to undergo body-temperature screening.
Macao has in place a Level III alert in response to the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak. The alert level means the risk of public emergency is moderate, indicating public health factors – of either environmental or technological origin – requiring firm follow-up action by the local authorities.
Members of the public have no cause for alarm regarding the Wuhan outbreak. 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.
The Government issues a reminder to Macao residents either working, studying or living in Wuhan, to remain vigilant and to:
- pay greater attention to the maintenance of personal, environmental and food hygiene;
- avoid contact with people who have fever or symptoms related to respiratory diseases;
- avoid visiting hospitals in Wuhan and people infected with the virus;
- avoid contact with poultry and other animals;
- wear masks when necessary;
- after returning to Macao, seek medical treatment immediately and report details of travel history, if respiratory symptoms such as fever and cough develop after travel;
- pay close attention to the latest news issued by the Macao SAR Government regarding the Wuhan viral pneumonia outbreak and take heed of the suggested preventive measures.
Any questions from the public on this topic while they are in Macao should be directed to the Health Bureau on +853 2870 0800. Alternatively, the public can visit the Bureau’s website: www.ssm.gov.mo/csr to seek further information.