(Xinhua/Li An)

OPINION – Neverending story

After this most traumatic of weeks, I believe I speak for all of us when I say we don’t want to go through this ever again.

After almost 500 consecutive days, the Macau bubble finally burst after a school trip to Xi’an leads to a local family cluster and a tree day citywide testing drive.

Considering that the 12-year old student who authorities believe to be the source of the infection had been in Macau since July 25, we can consider ourselves lucky that apart from the family’s four members – two parents and their two children – no positive cases have been reported so far.

We’ve seen plenty of blame throwing towards the school and the family itself, from people themselves that probably also travelled to the mainland one time or the other. The school itself and the student did not do anything illegal, they just took advantage of an imperfect system.

The student got tested before the trip and considering the seven-day validity allowed at the time entered Macau before the expiration period. In fact, if her parents did not travel to Zhuhai and got tested there, who knows maybe we wouldn’t even ever have known this family was infected for even longer.

The issue comes down to how was a seven-day nucleic acid test validity allowed during a period where several cases were reported in the mainland. It sure was convenient at the time, but it surely failed if the purpose was to avoid all this trouble.

Still, after a late announcement by authorities on August 3 that everyone would have to be tested, are we really surprised concerning the chaotic scenes witnessed on August 4 of long lines, system breakdowns and panic buying.

In just one day I tried to be tested in two locations, at the Public Security Police Forces School in Coloane village and at the Seac Pai Van Community Center. I gave up the two times as the first entailed a long wait inside a sports gym with no air conditioning and the second a long wait in the rain.

Thankfully most of the glitches were corrected and after calling the Guangdong cavalry and solving the IT errors, by the last ays the process proceeded smoothly and quickly.

It’s easy for the government to say afterwards they warned people to not rush to testing centres, but what was to be expected when you make such a last-minute announcement and don’t provide a clear definition of what would happen if one was to not be tested after the deadline was to be finished.

Now the issue boils down to the must repeated nuisance that the local vaccination rate remains unacceptably low. The way a city with a 45 per cent vaccination rate reacts to new cases is much different from how it could react if it had an 80 or 90 per cent rate.

Excuses to avoid taking the jab are more and more inexcusable. With the exception, of course, of people with evident clear and proven medical conditions that prohibit them from being inoculated, everyone else should take the vaccine.

It’s that or to continue with this continuous cat and mouse game of border closures and opening, with the impact it has on our economy, convenience and mental health.

Fear has so far been the only real motivation behind increases in vaccinations, and there will hopefully be another run to vaccinations after the current situation is taken care of.

Fear has also been one of the main factors leading residents to delay their vaccination, so the only solution is for authorities to assure them that of its safety and advance with policies that just make not being vaccinated inconvenient enough to reduce hesitancy.

The pandemic is here to stay for now and if someone believed we could live in a bubble for its duration should now snap back into reality.

[MNA Editor-in-Chief]