(Xinhua/Chen Fuping)

1.6 million masks sold in first day of new mask purchase scheme round

On the first day of a new round of the local health mask purchase scheme, queues at pharmacies in Macau have returned and 1.6 million masks have been sold, local authorities announced, while adding to have decided to end the free supply of these products at health facilities.

On the streets, there are those who call the Public Security Police Force to end the ‘resale’ of masks on the street, purchased at cost prices in conventional pharmacies at a time when the sale is rationed to 10 masks for every 10 days.

And in some health services, the authorities detected the entry of people who simulated some disease just to put their hands on a mask that was provided free to patients, when the sale to the rest of the population is rationed.

At the daily press conference of the Macau authorities, both the head of the Public Affairs division of the Public Security Police Corporation, Lei Tak Fai, and the coordinator of the Health Services Disease Prevention and Control Center, Leong Iek Hou, criticized opportunism.

Especially at a “critical moment” like the one we are experiencing in Macau today, they stressed, when the Government ordered 20 million masks and more than half have already been sold.

No new cases have been identified in Macau for about a week and yesterday authorities have announced yet another hospital discharge to one of the initial 10 infected, reducing the number of those infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus to eight, but both officials took advantage of the press conference to appeal to the population not to put down their guard.

“There is more flow and more people, there are more customers in restaurants. They are indications that people are more relaxed and more relaxed, but (…) this is a crucial moment and should only be left if it is really necessary or in an emergency (…), if they are not devaluing our prevention work ”, underlined Leong Iek Hou.

A message reinforced shortly after by Lei Tak Fai, who confirmed a greater presence of people in public spaces, in the last hours, “and even by people without masks”, noted the head of the security forces.

“It’s a risk,” he said, then advising the population to avoid queues at pharmacies, where the police have reinforced their presence since the announcement of the rationed sale.

At the same press conference, the coordinator of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control of Health Services indicated that 96 Macau citizens are in the province of Hubei, where the epidemic began, and the Government has already sent medicines to people suffering from diseases chronic.

Macau Health authorities announced today that they have discharged yet another patient infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus, bringing the number of infected people to eight in the territory.

The second patient to be discharged from the hospital, who has already left Macau, is a 21-year-old woman, a teacher and resident in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Yesterday 350 samples were tested at the Public Health Laboratory, a number that continues to grow compared to previous days, as the screening has been extended to groups defined as being at higher risk.

In total, 1,024 tests have been carried out in the gaming capital of the world in recent weeks, whose casinos closed by government order a week ago.

Of the 1,024 tests, 993 suspected cases have already been ruled out. Some 21 people continue to await the results of the analyzes, while 27 have already left the isolation imposed by health authorities.

The number of deaths in mainland China from the coronavirus has risen to 1,113, the Chinese National Health Commission reported today.

According to Beijing health officials, the total death toll in the past 24 hours is 97.

The total number of confirmed cases is 44,653, of which 2,015 were confirmed in the last 24 hours in mainland China.

Chinese authorities added that 451,462 patients were followed up for having had close contact with those infected, of whom 185,037 are still under observation.

The balance surpasses that of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which between 2002 and 2003 killed 774 people worldwide, most of them in China, but the mortality rate remains lower.

The new virus, which caused one death in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines, also affects the territory of Macau (with eight infected) and more than two dozen countries, where the cases of contagion exceed 350.

The situation prompted the scheduling of an emergency meeting of health ministers from European Union countries for Thursday in Brussels, while the World Health Organization sent a team of experts to China to monitor developments.