Macau Zero COVID-19 Policy Will Remain Until 80 Percent of Population Vaccinated

Posted on: October 8, 2021, 09:14h. 

Last updated on: October 13, 2021, 12:29h.

Macau health officials said this week that the zero COVID-19 policy will remain in place until 80 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. The policy requires immediate government reaction to even a single new positive test result.

Macau casino COVID-19 China coronavirus
Macau residents wait in a long line to undergo a COVID-19 test this week, as required by the local government. The Chinese enclave is carrying on with its zero-case policy approach. (Image: Xinhua)

The Macau Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center affirmed that its coronavirus response will not change until more people in the casino hub are willing to get their jabs.

We have researched this issue. Everyone in the world wants to learn how to live with the virus, but we don’t want a high mortality rate in elderly residents,” explained agency coordinator Dr. Leong Iek Hou.

“In order to co-exist with the virus, we need to have a high inoculation rate. Many countries and regions that have adopted this policy already have vaccination rates above 80 percent or 90 percent, or have most of their elderly population vaccinated,” she added.

Vax Rate Lagging

Macau’s latest COVID-19 vaccination data shows that about 48 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. Another nine percent is considered partially inoculated.

There’s substantial vaccine hesitancy throughout much of the Pearl River Delta, including in Hong Kong and Macau. Many residents have voiced concerns about the long-term effects of the vaccines.

Macau recently underwent a third round of region-wide coronavirus testing following a small number of new locally transmitted cases. Of the 681,570 tests conducted, local officials said none came back positive.

Macau’s zero COVID-19 policy will make it difficult to ease entry and exit requirements. Earlier this month, Macau and neighboring Zhuhai announced that it’s planned easing of quarantine protocols had been canceled. The announcement came just hours before the border gates were set to easier allow the flow of people between the two areas.

“In response to one positive case newly found in the nucleic acid testing, under the Zhuhai-Macao joint prevention and control mechanism, it is agreed that the cross-boundary arrangements in the Zhuhai and Macao ports which are to be effective from 12:00 noon today will be canceled, the current anti-epidemic measures will be maintained,” the enclave said on October 4.

The ongoing border restrictions shattered what Macau casinos hoped to be a prosperous Golden Week. The entry requirements resulted in the annual October 1-7 holiday celebration being almost nonexistent.

Delta Spread

Numerous countries have tried Macau’s COVID-19 approach to battling new coronavirus cases. But with the more contagious delta variant spreading despite lockdowns, some countries have abandoned their zero case policies.

For instance, New Zealand was one country that recently folded on its zero COVID plan. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that delta’s transmissibility is more the reason for vaccination.

It’s clear that long periods of heavy restrictions have not got us to zero cases,” Ardern explained this week. “But that is okay. Elimination was important because we didn’t have vaccines. Now we do, so we can begin to change the way we do things.”

The delta COVID-19 variant is thought to be 60 times more transmissible than the disease’s original version.

New Zealand, notoriously strict in limiting human activity in the early onset of the pandemic, is in the process of lifting all of its restrictions as to its strategy changes.

New Zealand’s full vaccination rate mimics Macau’s, as only 46 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. However, another 24 percent are at least partially vaccinated. Some global health experts say even one COVID-19 vaccination dose provides great protection against serious complications from the virus.