Macau, Zhuhai step up heat with ban

Top News | Michael Shum and Angel Kwan 24 Jan 2020

Macau and Zhuhai agreed to ban peoples with fever from entering or leaving neighboring cities, Macau’s Chief Executive Ho Iat-seng said as he announced heightened prevention measures after the casino hub saw its second confirmed case of the Wuhan coronavirus in two days.

A 66-year-old Wuhan visitor was stopped at the border gate after being detected with fever on Wednesday and yesterday confirmed to be infected.

Macau authorities on Wednesday said a 52-year-old Wuhan businesswoman had the coronavirus, the first for the enclave, prompting fever screening machines to be placed in all casinos. Four of his family members are now under observation at Peak Hospital.

After a meeting with Zhuhai officials, Ho said the two city governments have decided to jointly impose more heightened control measures.

Tourists who enter or exit the two cities would need to go through body temperature checks, and would not be allowed to cross the border if they have a fever.

Macau had temperature monitoring devices installed by yesterday afternoon.

“For Macau, we originally only limit the entrance of those who have fever, and not their exit. From today, we limit those who are leaving Macau as well,” Ho said.

“We can only prepare for the worst.”

Ho urged Macau residents to stay home and avoid going outdoors.

He also said foreign workers who return to Wuhan for the Lunar New Year holiday should not come back before the epidemic is under control, and those who have not gone to Wuhan should stay in the enclave.

Macau will distribute face masks while also slapping a mask purchase limit on residents from last night amid a second case.

Residents can only buy 10 facial masks every 10 days for eight patacas at 54 designated pharmacies, to ensure there is enough supply for each person, Ho said.

The masks will only be supplied to local residents, with a Macau identification card entitling a purchase of up to 10 masks at one time.

Only after 10 days can the same Macau ID be used to buy masks again. "There might be a shortage if they are allowed to be sold to anyone. Therefore, we have decided to protect Macau citizens first," Ho said.

He added the government will cancel all festivities for the Lunar New Year.

The city’s Health Bureau said that over half of the pharmacies in Macau have run out of facial masks, while the SSM will distribute 150,000 face masks that it has stockpiled.

The bureau also said it was purchasing 20 million face masks, while three million arrived in Macau yesterday, and the rest before Lunar New Year.

Within hours of the confirmation, locals took to social media to protest about jacked-up prices of facial masks at shops.

Social media buzzed with reports and photographs of the price increases for such products.

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