57 Macao residents return home safely from Hubei

Government officials detail in a press conference the chartered flight arrangements to bring home Macao residents staying in Wuhan and adjacent cities in Hubei Province.

A flight chartered by the Government has on Saturday (7 March) brought home safely from Hubei Province a total of 57 Macao residents. The age range of the returnees is three months to 77 years.

One Macao resident initially included in the list of returnees was banned from leaving Hubei as his body temperature was measured as 37.5 Celsius, i.e., above the 37.3-Celsius maximum permitted by the Hubei immigration and customs services.

Upon arrival in Macao, the 57 returnees were tested to ensure they were free of any symptoms linked to COVID-19, the illness associated with a recently-classified novel coronavirus. The returnees were then placed aboard chartered coaches and taken to the Public Health Clinical Centre in Coloane for a 14-day period of quarantine. In that time, they will be asked to take three tests for COVID-19 infection. The first has been scheduled for today (Sunday).

The homecoming flight – NX9607 – took off at 4.51pm from Wuhan, Hubei Province, and landed at Macau International Airport at 6.26pm.

The homecoming mission was completed smoothly, with all on board the flight – including eight Government personnel and the seven-member flight crew – returning to Macao safely, said the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ms Ao Ieong U. She was speaking during a press conference held Saturday evening to give an update on the chartered flight arrangements.

The Secretary said the Government was confident it was capable of managing the period of quarantine and other epidemic-control efforts relating to the returnees.

The Chief Executive, Mr Ho Iat Seng, had – since the beginning of the COVID-19 alert – emphasised the fact he attached great importance to assisting the homecoming of those Macao residents still in Hubei. He had directed public-sector departments to plan arrangements for the Macao residents’ return, while bearing in mind developments related to the novel coronavirus, Ms Ao Ieong said.

During the press conference, Ms Ao Ieong conveyed to the Government personnel and the flight crew that volunteered for the homecoming mission, the Chief Executive’s thanks. Mr Ho also praised all public departments involved in the mission, and Air Macau staff for their professionalism.

The mission to bring the residents home would not have been successful without the strong support of the Central Government, the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Macao Special Administrative Region, and the Hubei Government. Such support was essential in order for the returnees to be able to reach the point of departure – Wuhan Tianhe International Airport – by travelling within a short time from cities across Hubei Province.

Also speaking in Saturday evening’s press conference was the Secretary for Administration and Justice, Mr Cheong Weng Chon. He noted the aim of the mission to bring people home had been to pick up Macao residents that had remained either in Wuhan or cities nearby. Infants and the elderly had received particular care and support, he noted. Hubei was a large province and currently only Wuhan Tianhe International Airport – among Hubei transport nodes – was accessible to the outside world. There had been approximately 100 Macao residents scattered across Hubei. Any move to bring back the remainder would take into consideration the experience of today’s mission, and the prevailing conditions in Hubei, added Mr Cheong.

The 57 returnees were drawn from an aggregate of 31 families. The people had been staying in a variety of cities in Hubei, including Wuhan, Xiaogan, Xiaocheng, Huanggang, Xianning, Suizhou, Xiangyang, Enshi, Yichang, Huangshi and Shiyan.

The returnees had been responsible for arranging transport from their respective location in Hubei Province to the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport. One family arrived at the airport later than scheduled, due to foggy weather. Another family had started their journey to Wuhan’s airport at 2am today, in order to catch the chartered flight.

The outbound flight – NX9608 – took off at 9.30am and had arrived in Wuhan at 11.07am

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