The tiny Chinese territory is rushing to stamp out a fresh coronavirus outbreak fueled by the Delta variant.
Macau is now on alert after a family of four tested positive for the highly transmissible Delta variant of Covid-19, breaking a more-than-480-day streak of no locally acquired cases. Three of the family members had traveled to mainland China in recent weeks: the daughter went on a school trip to Xi’an last month, while her parents crossed the border multiple times for brief visits to Zhuhai.
Authorities have since ordered a “state of immediate prevention,” mandating nucleic acid tests for all 680,000 residents within a three-day period starting this morning. Macau’s government has already set up a network of 24-hour testing centers across the territory; those who do not get swabbed within the required timeframe will see their digital health codes turn yellow, barring them from restaurants and public transport.
Earlier today, Macau announced the closure of entertainment venues, including cinemas, bars, nightclubs, and karaoke lounges. Beauty salons and gyms are also affected by the new rules. But casinos, by far the largest source of revenue for the Asian gambling hub, will remain open. Macau’s Chief Executive Ho Iat-seng explained at a press conference that casinos had no link with the current cluster, but added that they would be shut immediately if any problems arose.
Neighboring Hong Kong quickly moved to tighten restrictions on residents returning from Macau. Those who do so face a 14-day mandatory quarantine at home, with five rounds of testing, including two conducted after the self-isolation period.