Health authorities have announced today (Thursday) that decided to create a new ‘special isolation hotel’ where all arrivals coming from high-risk foreign countries will have to complete the required 21-day quarantine, under a closed-loop system that will employ robots for some tasks.
The first hotel selected under the new system will be Treasure Hotel in front of the Macau International Airport, with tourism authorities believing the property will be ready “before December”.
The 500-room hotel has so far been used as a government-designated quarantine hotel, with authorities indicating they decided to choose the property as the first special isolation location due to its high room capacity, separate building and location far from the community.
“The Treasure Hotel is currently undergoing maintenance and adjustments in response to the closed-loop management requirements of the health department. It is expected to be put into operation before December” Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) PR Director Lau Fong Chi aid in today’s pandemic update press conference.
Authorities will monitor the number of available rooms and find alternative hotels if the Treasure Hotel becomes fully booked.
Currently, one of the only routes to return to the SAR from regions outside Greater China is via the Singapore airport, with all arrivals from this route considered as “secondary high risk” and having to complete quarantine in the Treasure Hotel.
“The pandemic situation abroad is still serious. We know that it varies from region to region and we can evaluate if people coming from low-risk locations would not necessarily stay in the special isolation hotel, we will evaluate case by case,” Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre Coordinator Dr. Leong Iek Hou.
“Individuals of different risks will be assigned to different medical observation facilities. Higher risk people will be transferred to the Alto de Coloane isolation centre and those with a high risk, but already a lower level, will have to go to the specialized hotels, not being able to choose the quarantine hotel. We will also increase the frequency of nucleic acid testing so that those at high risk will have a daily nucleic acid test for the first ten days so that any case of infection is diagnosed as soon as possible.”
Previously medical observation hotels were divided into two categories: designated hotels, which have a fixed daily fee and are limited to Macau ID holders and their relatives; and optional hotels, which are available to non-Macau ID holders and where the price is determined by the property’s management.
However, starting from December a new category of hotel will be created to accommodate arrivals from foreign countries and regions, with the Treasure Hotel chosen as the first of the new category.
In order to reduce the risk of transmission for frontline workers in the hotel, authorities are also planning to start using automated robots to provide non-contact services, such as body temperature scanning, disinfection, and material distribution.
This system could later be implemented in other designated hotels.
People coming from Hong Kong, Taiwan and high-risk areas in Mainland China will be able to select any quarantine hotel but starting from November 20 everyone entering the city – residents and non-residents alike – will have to book quarantine hotels in advance and present proof of reservation upon entry.
Designated quarantine hotels will start accepting reservations from November 15, with the date to start special medical observation hotel bookings to be announced later.
Hotel fees, in response to the latest epidemic prevention requirements, will be adjusted, with new charges for designated hotels also being announced as soon as possible.
Since September 24, Macau successively found Covid-19 infections among the security personnel of two medical observation hotels, precisely the Treasure and Golden Crown China hotels, generating two mass testing rounds and the re-imposition of stricter border restrictions.
This issue lead the MGTO and the Health Bureau to hold meetings with relevant medical observation hotel management personnel, to enforce a review of the management of the medical observation and isolation hotel at different levels, and mandating all frontline personnel in designated hotels to operate under a closed-loop system.
Hoel workers in “high-risk” positions must be accommodated within the hotel or in another designated place while on duty and must be completely separated from the other employees of the hotel.
These workers in “high risk” functions range from the reception staff, security guards, garbage collectors and technicians who have to enter quarantine rooms to make repairs, with Dr. Leong indicating the policy covered about 1,000 workers.
After the services period is completed, if no cases of Covid-19 have been registered in that hotel, workers who performed high-risk tasks will have to remain in isolation for another three days, and then 11 days of self-health management after leaving the hotel, and will not be allowed to cross the mainland China border during that period.
If there have been cases of Covid-19 at the hotel in question, high-risk employees will have to stay in isolation in the hotel for seven more days after the days of service, and then seven days of self-health management, before they are allowed to cross the border.