(Xinhua/Han Yan)

UPDATED – Quarantine requirements to be increased to 21 days due to new UK strain

Quarantine requirements will be increased from 14 to 21 days for any arrivals – except for arrivals coming from Mainland China or Taiwan – starting from 10:00pm of today (Monday), health authorities announced.

If a person is currently under medical observation she will have to complete it until 21 days. The cost of the extra seven days will be covered by local authorities.

If a person completed the 14 days she will be required an additional seven days of self-health management at home, and do a nucleic acid test on the 20th day.

Under current rules, people from ‘low risk’ cities in mainland China may enter Macao quarantine-free, as long as they provide a negative COVID-19 infection certificate and meet other requirements, but people who have been in medium risk areas on the mainland still have to complete a 14-day quarantine.

People wishing to leave Macau during the seven-day health self-management period will be required to take a nucleic acid test.

Only with a negative infection result will they be able to leave Macao, and then only within a 48-hour period from the issuance of the test result. 

The measures follow similar policies applied in Hong Kong after an outbreak of a new more virulent strain of the novel coronavirus was reported in the United Kingdom.

On Sunday, British authorities announced that the spread of a more-infectious new coronavirus strain was now “out of control”, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announcing that the infectiousness of the new strain had forced him into imposing a lockdown across much of England over the Christmas period.

Scientists first discovered the new variant — which they believe is 70 per cent more transmissible — in a patient in September.

People arriving into Hong Kong from the United Kingdom prior to December 22 must quarantine for a total of 21 days, versus the previously mandated 14 days of quarantine.

Hong Kong also banned all flights arriving from the United Kingdom from midnight on Monday.

According to Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre Centre Coordinator Dr. Leong Iek Hou positive matches of the new virus have been reported after the usual 14 day quarantine period.

The measure mainly targets Macau students studying in the United Kingdom and returning for the holiday break.

Foreigners and residents of mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan who have visited an overseas country in the 14 days before arriving Macao, are generally prohibited from entering Macau, but may apply to the authorities for exemption.

Macao had not recorded any new local COVID-19 case for 267 consecutive days.

Currently, there are still some 1,500 people under medical observation in local designated hotels.

Since December 20 local authorities announced that optional medical observation hotels – Sheraton and Lisboeta – will be available to Macau residents and their relatives but also to non-residents, who do not want to stay in the designated hotels and decide to stay at their the optional locations for a different cost.

Designated hotels are limited to Macau residents and their relatives, with fees and procedures the same as before, with MOP5,600 for the stay, MOP400 per night.

The Pousada Marina Infante, Golden Crown China Hotel, Grand Coloane Resort, Regency Art Hotel, Treasure Hotel and the Royal Dragon Hotel are defined as designated hotels.