The Government is paying close attention to the latest developments regarding the viral pneumonia cases that have occurred in Wuhan, Hubei Province, and has taken several measures to minimise the risk of such cases having any impact on Macao.
The Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region has received a notice from the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China explaining that preliminary investigations have identified the pathogen involved in the Wuhan outbreak as a newly-categorised coronavirus.
There is a broad family of viral pathogens defined as coronaviruses. They can cause a range of illnesses, including respiratory and intestinal problems. In addition to infecting human beings, coronaviruses have variously been known to infect other mammals such as pigs, cattle, cats, dogs, mink, camels, bats, mice and hedgehogs. They have also been known to infect various types of bird. There are currently six types of coronavirus known to affect humans: four types are pathogens associated with either common or moderately severe illnesses. The other two coronavirus types are associated respectively with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
The Government has been keeping in close contact with the National Health Commission regarding the latest developments concerning the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak.
As of Thursday (9 January) there was no report of any case of illness in Macao being linked to the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak. In addition, the authorities had found no sign – via body-temperature screening imposed at all boundary crossing checkpoints – of anyone with a combination of fever and a declaration that they had stayed recently in Wuhan.
During the period from 5pm on 8 January (Wednesday) to 5pm on 9 January (Thursday), there were no reports of any Macao people returning from recent trips to Wuhan and simultaneously complaining of illness.
Since 1 January, the Government has been 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. Tests had shown none of the eight patients had been infected by the Wuhan pneumonia virus.
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.
Temperature screening has been introduced at all Macao boundary checkpoints, including the airport, land crossings, and ferry terminals. The monitoring equipment at each checkpoint is able to measure the respective body temperature of each arriving traveller without them needing to pause to be processed.
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.