Macau’s government is expecting up to 80 percent of the population to get COVID, as it completely reverses its zero-COVID policy, in line with new announcements by mainland China.
Officials on Thursday announced the change in policy, noting broad changes including a general shift towards rapid antigen tests rather than nucleic acid tests, infected individuals will be allowed to home quarantine and an overall reduction in the testing requirements for those entering the SAR.
Quarantine will still be required for all individuals that are not entering from China, however the 5+3 policy will mean that, after undergoing the five days of quarantine, the individual’s health code will be yellow rather than red, meaning they can enter more of the city’s venues.
Workers in casinos will also have their testing regimen changed, to every three days, with each company being able to choose whether their workers take NATs or RATs.
The changes come as the SAR registered over 100 cases in its latest outbreak.
Despite the rise, officials say they are confident they will be able to “deal with COVID”, with the city preparing 600 hospital beds, 6,000 isolation treatment beds, 106 doctors and 89 nurses trained to treat COVID and 139 ventilators.
Despite the changes, arrivals into Macau from China still require a valid NAT test, taken within 48 hours for those not arriving via Zhuhai, which must have a test taken within 24 hours.
Authorities noted that the Omicron variant is much less virulent than previous variants and that over 90 percent of the cases would be asymptomatic, however they’re not planning to immediately open up to foreign visitors as they aim to control the current outbreak and not over-tax the health system.
The government is set to distribute anti-COVID kits to the population, including masks and testing kits.