CE: Macao to be highly vigilant over Lunar New Year holidays on developments in disease outbreak

The Chief Executive, Mr Ho Iat Seng, briefs reporters on the Government's disease-control works during a press conference at the Government Headquarters.

The Chief Executive, Mr Ho Iat Seng, today announced the Government would for the time being cancel all large-scale public events it had planned to hold. This was in order to strengthen control measures – already in place – to prevent an outbreak of disease from spreading in the community and to protect further the safety of the public.

In an afternoon press briefing at the Government Headquarters, Mr Ho said the decision to cancel events had been made after a Government evaluation of the risk presented by an outbreak of sickness – related to a newly-identified coronavirus – and whether there was a risk the situation might deteriorate as people moved in and out of Macao after the Lunar New Year holidays.

As of today, Macao has confirmed two infected cases of the newly-identified coronavirus found in the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak.

The Chief Executive gave an assurance to the public that the Government had been deploying all-out effort in its disease-control work in order to minimise the impact on Macao of the outbreak. The Government would remain highly vigilant and would announce in a timely way any news concerning the viral pneumonia outbreak stemming from Wuhan, in Hubei Province.

Mr Ho appealed to the Macao public to stay at home during the Lunar New Year holidays. Mr Ho also called on local organisations to cancel their events – and postpone any planned spring-gathering receptions – during the period the disease outbreak was affecting Macao. This was with a view to ensuring people did not crowd together, which might otherwise risk spreading disease.

In addition, the Government had provided guidance respectively for those mainland residents either studying or working in Macao. Explanatory sessions discussing the viral outbreak had been designed for delivery to students in tertiary-education institutions and for users of social service centres.

During today’s briefing, the Chief Executive appealed to those Macao non-resident workers originally from Hubei, to refrain from going home at the current time. Those who had already returned to Hubei on holiday, should reconsider any plans to return to Macao until such time as the disease outbreak was judged to be under control. Tour visits between Macao and Wuhan would also be suspended.

There were 457 Hubei residents studying in Macao; 180 of them from Wuhan. Approximately 500 Macao residents had been studying in Wuhan, but most had now come home to Macao.

Commenting on the availability of relevant medical supplies, Mr Ho said the Government had ordered a total of 20 million protective face masks and a first batch of 3 million had arrived. These were reserved for purchase by either Macao residents or non-resident workers.

Meanwhile, the Government was closely monitoring Macao’s stock of protective face masks and would spare no effort to expand the overall supply if necessary. The Government had – with effect from 1 January – increased its reserves of relevant medical materials, Mr Ho added.

The Chief Executive spoke of his meeting on Wednesday (22 January) in Macao with the head of the high-level expert team of the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China and member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Mr Zhong Nanshan. Mr Ho said he has been having – since 1 January – a daily telephone conversation with Mr Zhong on the latest developments in the viral outbreak.

Mr Ho said Mr Zhong had given advice on the Government’s disease-control work and suggestions for the Macao public, such as ensuring they use a face mask in a correct manner; and making sure they stay at home whenever possible. Mr Ho said the medical expert had endorsed the effectiveness of the Government’s measures in attempting to minimise the impact on Macao of the disease outbreak.

The Chief Executive said he did not rule out the possibility of suspending casino operations, should the local situation deteriorate. The Government urged employees in retailing and in non-gaming roles at casino resorts to wear a face mask, Mr Ho stated.

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