Macau authorities report no new cases after mass testing of population

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Authorities in Macau say that none of the tests conducted during an unprecedented city-wide Covid test have yielded a positive result. In total, during the three-day campaign 716,251 people were tested, with all results coming back negative.

However, as of Sunday, some 4,704 people still had not been tested, with authorities saying those who refused to be tested would be reported to the police and possibly placed in quarantine.

The campaign was held after four residents were found to be infected with the Delta strain of the virus. Authorities say that a local girl had contracted the virus while on a school trip to Xi’An, spreading it to her family members when she returned to Macau. The infection was linked to the outbreak at the Nanjing airport. Macau authorities did not discover the case until over a week had passed, during which the four family members directly or indirectly had contact with over 1,000 people. These are currently undergoing quarantine – while a further 268 people in the “Red Zone”, where the family abides, are being subject to a 14-day quarantine, until August 17th.

The new cases prompted authorities to impose border restrictions, requiring a negative nucleic acid test result issued within 12 hours for traversing the border to China. Authorities say that, following the results of the mass testing, they’re now speaking with their Mainland Chinese counterparts to relax border restrictions and facilitate visitation. No date was given yet for the relaxation, and the situation in the neighbouring city of Zhuhai will also largely define when such a relaxation could occur.

Given the negative results of the first mass round of testing in Macau, authorities said that they are not planning to conduct a second round, but will remain attentive to how the situation evolves.

The outbreak in Macau broke the near-500 day record without local cases and radically altered expectations for gross gaming revenue in August, after July saw the second-highest monthly gaming revenue of 2021, despite changing border restrictions due to the Nanjing outbreak.

Macau’s Chief Executive has noted that he is hoping for Macau to return to normal with two weeks, to lift visitor confidence and encourage visitation during the summer holidays.

Wynn Macau’s president Ian Couglan recently told investors that he expected the outbreak to be “under control within the next couple of weeks”, noting that Macau’s return to “normal” business levels will be closely linked to the vaccination rate within Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau – resulting in the much speculated travel bubble.

Macau’s vaccination rate was approaching 50 percent before the outbreak, during which authorities paused vaccination to handle the mass testing campaign. Health officials are aiming for an 80 percent vaccination rate to achieve herd immunity, one of the conditions previously linked to opening up with Hong Kong and other travel bubbles, such as with Singapore.

Visitation to Macau dropped sharply under the new measures, and is likely to remain low until the border measures are eased. The outbreak particularly dampened the recent soft-opening of SJM’s flagship property on the Cotai Strip, Grand Lisboa Palace, which opened just days before the new cases were discovered.