Macau has confirmed its second case of the Chinese coronavirus infection, as its tourism board cancelled all Lunar New Year celebrations, including a firework show and a parade.
The city's Chief Executive Ho Iat-seng on Thursday afternoon announced that preventive measures would be stepped up along its border with Zhuhai, the adjacent mainland city, and all travellers would be screened for body temperatures.
He feared the outbreak might get more serious after the Lunar New Year and said they had not ruled out closing all casinos if the situation got worse.
"We appeal to the public not to go out unless it's absolutely necessary. That's the best prevention," Ho said. "We had no choice but to cancel the new year celebrations even when everything was ready."
The Macau government also rolled out a scheme to give residents and workers in the casino hub 10 face masks every 10 days for 8 patacas (S$1.35), assuring the public that 20 million masks were on their way to the city.More than 571 cases of human transmissions of the coronavirus have been confirmed in mainland China. PHOTO: AFP
The development came a day after Ho met Zhong Nanshan, one of China's leading specialists on communicable diseases and a leader of the National Health Commission's senior expert panel, to seek his advice on controlling the virus outbreak.
Hong Kong also confirmed its second case on Wednesday, while more than 571 cases have been confirmed in mainland China, with Wuhan in Hubei province being the epicentre of the outbreak. The virus has so far claimed at least 17 lives.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Hong Kong Tourism Board had no plans to cancel its four-day Lunar New Year Carnival, starting from Saturday in the West Kowloon Cultural District Art Park.
The second coronavirus patient in Macau, a 66-year-old male tourist, arrived in the city from Wuhan at 4pm on Wednesday. He was detected with a body temperature of 38.7 deg C during fever screening at the border checkpoint, and was immediately sent to Conde S. Januário Hospital for further medical investigation and treatment.
He had a body temperature of 36 deg C when he was admitted to the hospital, and tested positive for the coronavirus.
"Four family members accompanying him were also sent to the hospital for medical investigations. His child was suffering from minor fever and was diagnosed with influenza," Dr Lei Wai-seng of the hospital said. "They were all tested negative for the coronavirus."
He added the family would be sent to Centro Clínico Saúde Pública - Macau's public health centre - for further quarantine later on Thursday. The centre was already accommodating six close contacts of the first confirmed patient, a 52-year-old Wuhan businesswoman, for quarantine.The patients are being treated at the Conde S. Januário Hospital in Macau. PHOTO: AFP
Another four visitors to Macau from Wuhan, who were considered "high risk", have tested negative and been quarantined. They will be allowed to go only if a second test conducted on them after 48 hours turns out negative, the authorities said.
Dr Cheong Tak-hong from the hospital said the first patient's temperature had reduced to a normal level on Thursday morning and she had only suffered from a minor cough and diarrhoea, while the second male patient had not suffered from any shortness of breath or fever.
This article was first published in the South China Morning Post.