Macau Says First 200K COVID-Tests Negative, as Casinos Anxiously Await Results

Posted on: August 8, 2022, 05:45h. 

Last updated on: August 8, 2022, 06:28h.

The Macau government on Sunday ordered all residents to undergo daily COVID-19 testing through today. That’s after a person who had visited neighboring Zhuhai on the Chinese mainland tested positive for the coronavirus over the weekend.

Macau casinos COVID-19 China
A pedestrian walks by an entrance to Grand Lisboa casino in Macau. The region’s government says the first day of the city’s latest mass testing round produced no additional positive COVID-19 cases. (Image: Reuters)

Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) government officials instructed each of the city’s 600,000 residents to undergo rapid antigen testing on Sunday and Monday in order to assure that another outbreak wasn’t underway in the enclave.

Residents are to upload the results of their two tests to the government’s official website. Those who do not risk being labeled “red” or “yellow” in the city’s online Health Code pandemic response system. For residents to enter Macau, they must display a “green” health code status at the border gate.

The Macau Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center announced today that the first 199,622 test results uploaded to the government’s website and reviewed by health officers produced no COVID-19 positive samples.

The infected person who had ventured into Zhuhai last weekend remains in isolation. The infected person’s apartment building and the supermarket where the person works have also been put on lockdown.

Macau’s two-day citywide mass testing blitz comes less than a week after the SAR moved to quarantine-free travel between Zhuhai. The region’s casinos, which are the backbone of the area’s economy and responsible for the bulk of the enclave’s employment, were allowed to reopen on July 23 following a 12-day government-ordered shutdown of gaming operations.

Casinos Seek Border Easing

The lifting of quarantine and medical observation requirements for arriving travelers from Zhuhai was supposed to be a major improvement in providing the region’s multibillion-dollar casinos with customers. Macau’s resorts have for years relied predominantly on the mainland for patrons.

In 2019, the mainland accounted for about 71% of the nearly 40 million travelers who visited Macau. Zhuhai, home to more than 2.4 million people, borders Macau. The city is located on the southern edge of the Guangdong Province in the Pearl River Delta.

Macau has been absent of meaningful visitor traffic throughout most of 2022. But July represented the casinos’ worst month of the entire pandemic, as gross gaming revenue totaled just $49 million. In pre-pandemic July 2019, the casinos took over $3 billion from their gambling patrons.

The casinos are anxiously awaiting the full results of the two-day citywide testing bonanza. Another outbreak and subsequent lockdown — as required under Macau’s “zero-COVID” adherence — would be added devastation to an already near-catastrophic situation for the Chinese gaming industry.

Current Case Count

Since Macau’s COVID-19 outbreak that began in mid-June, the region has confirmed around 1,800 infections. Fourteen individuals remain infected and isolated in medical facilities.

Macau health officials say should a person test positive, regardless of their symptoms, they should immediately summon an ambulance to be transported to a hospital for monitoring and appropriate isolation. All individuals living in the household as the infected person are required to isolate at a government-approved quarantine site.

“The declarant and the co-living individuals must stay home and wait patiently for being transferred to the quarantine site by the designated ambulance,” a statement from the Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center explained. “Relevant nucleic acid testing will be arranged for all of them by the authorities.”