CE: Ongoing discussions with Guangdong on boundary-crossing measures

The Chief Executive, Mr Ho Iat Seng, today said the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) Government would continue discussions with Guangdong Province, regarding epidemic-control work and boundary crossing measures.

Speaking to reporters after the National Day reception hosted by the MSAR Government, Mr Ho said Macao, Guangdong, and Zhuhai held a joint meeting that had started on Thursday (30 September) to discuss boundary-crossing measures. The meeting ran until 2am today, and consensus had not yet been reached on the topic.

As such, the boundary crossing measures between Macao and Zhuhai remain unchanged. People travelling from Macao to Zhuhai are required to provide a nucleic acid test certificate – issued within 24 hours of time of arrival – proving they are ‘negative’ for COVID-19 infection. They are also currently required to undergo a 14-day medical observation in Zhuhai.

The Chief Executive shared with the media further details of the MSAR Government’s work on the various relevant topics. Since the early stages in 2020 of the COVID-19 alert, Macao had closely adhered to the country’s standards regarding prevention and control work. Macao’s district- and risk-specific epidemic prevention plan had been formulated in line with the National Health Commission standards and was approved, on 31 August 2020, by the Central Government, after garnering advice from Guangdong and Zhuhai.

Macao’s anti-epidemic work had been running effectively over the past 20 months. An expert team from the National Health Commission had visited Macao in September, and affirmed the city’s work in that regard, said Mr Ho.

It seemed Guangdong’s Health Commission had lately tightened its anti-epidemic policies, and such updates were beyond the guidelines implemented since August 2020, Mr Ho noted.

He said the MSAR Government hoped Guangdong’s Health Commission would be able to share its new guidelines with the Macao authorities, so that Macao could adapt accordingly.

During Thursday’s meeting, Guangdong’s Health Commission explained its views on Macao’s management of yellow code zones, one of the categories – in terms of risk – when assessing community linkage to any confirmed patients. People living in yellow code zones were required by the MSAR Government to take a nucleic acid test every day. Guangdong’s Health Commission deemed this to be insufficient for managing risk, suggesting Macao completely seal off the relevant zone, without allowing anyone out.

Guangdong’s Health Commission additionally said an aggregate of 29 Macao inhabitants that travelled to Guangdong had later been identified as having been in the vicinity of Macao’s recently-confirmed COVID-19 patients, at about the same time. The Commission considered there was a risk of the virus spreading to the whole of Guangdong. Macao had, as of this morning, not received any information about such incidents, and therefore was not able to confirm that point, said Mr Ho.

Mr Ho added that the Secretary of the Guangdong Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Mr Li Xi; the Governor of Guangdong, Mr Ma Xingrui; and Executive Vice Governor of Guangdong, Mr Lin Keqing, had respectively expressed their firm support for Macao. Zhuhai had shown great confidence in Macao’s epidemic-prevention and -control work, based on the smooth cooperation over the past 20 months on such matters.

Currently, people arriving by air in Macao from mainland provinces other than Guangdong, are not required to undergo quarantine after their return flight.

The Chief Executive apologised to those affected by the boundary crossing measures. He noted the Guangdong boundary crossing measures might affect the normal life of a certain number of people, including Macao non-resident workers. The MSAR Government had immediately opened its community service centres, in order to provide shelter to those in need. The Government had also discussed with the local tourism sector, other accommodation options for those affected.

The MSAR Government would closely monitor the situation, and offer assistance to those affected, said Mr Ho.

When talking to reporters, Mr Ho called on members of the public who had not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, to get vaccinated at the earliest opportunity, and so fulfil their civic duty. COVID-19, especially the Delta variant, had created arduous conditions for Macao, due to a recent number of import-related cases, after 492 days without any such cases. Such a development in Macao, illustrated the virus had become more contagious, and inoculation was effective in mitigating the effects of infection. Only when the majority of the community had been vaccinated, would the community have a degree of safety in the event of any outbreak. That would help in terms of revitalising the local economy, by making it possible for a greater number of visitors to come to Macao.

The Chief Executive additionally said he hoped a greater number of casino employees would get vaccinated. Only 50 percent of them had so far been vaccinated against COVID-19.

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