Secretaries coordinate community resources to bolster disease control

The Secretary for Administration and Justice, Mr Cheong Weng Chon, meets with association representatives.

Macao’s five Government Secretaries respectively held meetings today with representatives of community groups, in a bid to utilise the latter’s community work and social networks to complement the Government’s disease-control efforts.

The Chief Executive, Mr Ho Iat Seng, today announced cancellation of all Government-organised large-scale events. Mr Ho also called on local organisations to cancel their cultural events – and postpone any planned spring-gathering receptions – during the period a disease outbreak was affecting Macao. This was with a view to ensuring people did not crowd together, which might otherwise risk spreading disease.

Today’s meetings involving the five Secretaries were in line with the Chief Executive’s directive to review how to bolster Government-community cooperation to combat an outbreak – stemming from Wuhan, in Hubei Province – of viral pneumonia.

The Secretaries held their meetings with community groups this morning. They spoke with representatives of associations linked specifically to their area of departmental responsibility. The Secretaries in each case provided a briefing on the latest developments in the local outbreak of the disease, and measures in relation to preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Secretary for Administration and Justice, Mr Cheong Weng Chon, met this morning with representatives from industrial and commercial associations, the food and beverage sector, the legal professional sector, and civil servant groups.

In view of current developments relating to the outbreak, Mr Cheong also called on the associations to: impose temperature monitoring at their premises; check the body temperature of anyone attending events they might hold; and request the Fire Services Bureau to transport to medical facilities any person suspected of infection from the coronavirus. Secretary Cheong particularly reminded the community representatives that hawkers and people working in food and beverage services should each wear a face mask.

In a separate meeting with some 80 representatives from associations respectively representing commerce, industry, and labour affairs, the Secretary for Economy and Finance, Mr Lei Wai Nong, issued a reminder that all front-line workers – including those in retailing and in non-gaming roles at casino resorts – were advised to take protective measures such as wearing a face mask.

Secretary Lei shared – during his meeting – information on some of the Government’s latest initiatives to prevent disease from spreading within the community. They included: asking non-resident workers from Hubei Province to postpone returning to Macao until further notice; and stepping up checks by officials, to ensure the community had a stable supply of products such as protective face masks, to ensure public hygiene.

The Secretary for Security, Mr Wong Sio Chak, mentioned – in his meeting with relevant community representatives – that Macao and neighbouring Zhuhai in Guangdong Province had established a mechanism for timely communication between senior officials concerning information relevant to the viral outbreak. Under the mechanism, Mr Wong was in charge of communication flow from Macao side.

The security authorities in Macao and Zhuhai would remain in close contact on the basis that their work constituted the first line of defence for both sides, said Secretary Wong. The local police always devoted the utmost effort to the maintenance of Macao’s social security and crowd control management during the Lunar New Year holidays.

In another meeting with approximately 200 people representing various local associations, the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ms Ao Ieong U, urged them to enhance hygiene maintenance standards at buildings used for public purposes. Such steps included providing hand-sanitiser gel and protective face masks for those that needed them.

Secretary Ao Ieong additionally stated the Government’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre had launched a page on the social media platform Facebook to disseminate information related to the control of the disease outbreak. Members of the public were advised to ignore unsubstantiated rumours and not to pass them on to others.

The Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Mr Raimundo do Rosário, met with representatives of the six associations in the city that act on behalf of the construction sector. Mr Rosário advised them to keep a close eye on the health of any non-resident worker who might be returning to Macao after spending holiday time on the mainland.

The Government had asked the ferry companies serving local routes; ferry terminal managements; bus companies; the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) operating company; and Macau International Airport’s management, to follow stringently the Health Bureau’s instructions for dealing with the viral outbreak. In particular, those entities were asked to strengthen facility-disinfection practices and put in place measures to protect front-line workers, stated Mr Rosário.

Secretary Rosário added the Government had also ordered enhancement of road-cleaning work and of disinfection effort at Macao’s boundary checkpoints; bus stops; taxi stations; and other spots with a strong flow of travellers.

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