Fresh Government measures support Macao residents, SMEs amid coronavirus control work

The Secretary for Economy and Finance, Mr Lei Wai Nong (5th left), and the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ms Ao Ieong U (6th left), attend the press conference held by the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre.

The Government will waive – for a period of three months – rents otherwise payable on public properties used by local businesses, in order to strengthen support for local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) during the ongoing fight against the local incidence of a novel coronavirus.

The Secretary for Economy and Finance, Mr Lei Wai Nong, also announced on Friday (31 January) the Government would bring forward the date for distributing funds from the Wealth Partaking Scheme. The procedure would begin from April and was designed to ease economic pressure on Macao people.

In a press conference held on Friday (January 31) by the Government’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre, Secretary Lei also called on private-sector property owners to review rents in order to help SMEs to ride out the present difficulties. Mr Lei also said he had met recently with the Macao Chamber of Commerce, representatives of local SMEs, and property developers’ associations, to discuss support measures for local enterprises.

Secretary Lei additionally stated that the Macao Economic Bureau would be able to assist eligible local businesses regarding subsidies for SMEs.

The Government would focus – in the current phase of the coronavirus alert – on the monitoring and combatting of the disease, said Mr Lei. With effective and timely management; plus favourable external conditions, Macao would be one of the first cities to recover from impacts wrought by the advent of the disease, he added.

During Friday’s press conference, the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ms Ao Ieong U, announced that during the period from 3 to 7 February inclusive, only emergency and core public essential services would be available to the public; non-essential services would remain suspended.

The arrangement was made after in-depth evaluation and in view of the latest information on the outbreak of coronavirus, including the current situation in Macao, and was aimed at preventing the disease from spreading within the community.

Secretary Ao Ieong urged private-sector companies to consider following also the Government’s arrangement, in a further bid to prevent disease from spreading. She also said members of the public should, where possible, remain at home – as they had during the Lunar New Year holidays – and avoid unnecessary outings.

A second supply phase for protective masks will begin on Sunday (2 February). Macao residents and non-resident workers are each entitled to buy a maximum of 10 face masks per supply phase from any one of a total of 56 pharmacies –under an agreement between those outlets and the Government – and from any one of the 10 health centres.

Macao has not seen a new case of confirmed coronavirus infection since 27 January. At present, the seven confirmed patients in Macao are still being treated in medical isolation at the Conde S. Januário Hospital. The seven patients currently have mild symptoms.

As of 3pm on Friday, the Macao health authorities had processed a total of 127 people under the suspicion they had been infected by the novel coronavirus. The tally included the seven confirmed patients. A total of 119 people had tested negative for the disease, and the results of tests on one person were still pending.

There was in addition an aggregate of 19 people, as of 3pm on Friday, identified as having had close contact with at least one of the seven confirmed patients. Those 19 were still under medical observation.

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