Anyone leaving or entering Macau by land as of Wednesday must display a negative nucleic acid test result, taken within the past 12 hours. This halves the 24-hour time limit announced on Tuesday, which resulted in a 60 percent drop in border crossings during the day.
Over 300,000 border crossings had been registered on average in the days before the outbreak.
The measures were imposed after four new Covid cases were found in Macau, all of the Delta variety and three of which are classified as local infections – breaking the city’s near-500 day record without local cases.
Macau’s top official on Wednesday apologised for the implementation of the new measures, which resulted in massive lines at all available testing facilities and confusion over the city’s Health Code – necessary to enter or exit the city, or circulate in primary regions of the SAR.
A Blue health code was meant to be implemented on Wednesday – applied to everyone in Macau – a measure displaying whether individuals had been tested under the mass testing scheme of Macau’s population, set to take place over four days, until August 7th. Attempts to implement the Blue code caused a crash in the system, affecting entries and exits of borders and venues, including casinos – which require ID and a valid health code for entry.
Authorities on Wednesday also said that 72 close contacts of the four confirmed cases had tested negative in their first test, while 328 close contacts being tested had not yet registered a positive case.
The four positive cases have been confirmed to be linked to the Nanjing outbreak in Mainland China, with the daughter of the family of four – who picked up the virus while on a study trip to Xi’An with 29 other classmates – being the origin. None of the classmates have tested positive yet.
Macau authorities say that they have consulted Chinese coronavirus expert Zhong Nansha on the SAR’s outbreak, leading to their implementation of a mass testing regime before receiving the results of those deemed to be close contacts of those infected. Authorities say that border measures can be further altered and strengthened, including a full border lockdown, depending on the situation.
Macau’s top official has said that a closure of the city’s casinos is not yet planned, but has not discarded the possibility, depending on the outcome of the mass testing.