(Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)

Waiting period in airport before quarantine should be reduced – Legislator

A legislator has requested for authorities to improve the waiting period for residents returning to the SAR, who can sometimes wait for as long as 12 hours before they are taken to a designated medical observation or quarantine hotel.

A seven-day quarantine in a medical observation hotel plus three days of health self-management are currently required for arrivals coming from Hong Kong, Taiwan and overseas.

However, before being allocated either to a medical facility if positive or to a quarantined hotel if negative, arriving passengers are requested to await their respective nucleic acid test results taken upin arrival either at the airport or at the Taipa ferry Terminal.

“Just recently, our Citizens’ Assistance Office received a complaint from a permanent resident, who denounced the prolonged waiting process that his wife with two minor children had been subjected to. After landing at 4:00pm in the Macau International Airport (MIA) and after a long journey from Europe they were only accommodated in a quarantine hotel the next day at 7:00am,” legislator Jose Pereira Coutinho said today at the Legislative Assembly.

Speaking before the main legislative debate at the plenary session, Coutinho added that the other 80 passengers on the same flight also had to spend the night sitting on waiting for their respective nucleic acid test results on “plastic benches, with crying minors.

“In other words, after a long and tiring journey, they were subjected to a wait of more than 12 hours, with indecent common-use toilets, and without proper and adequate food, especially for children, in an unspeakable process of abandonment,” the legislator added.

“Almost three years have passed since the beginning of the pandemic, and more than MOP1.6 billion spent, we continue to witness continuously, a total lack of coordination in the processing of the arrival of passengers at MIA”

The legislator then urged authorities to proceed with the elimination of the administrative bureaucratic measures for the retention of passengers at Macau International Airport (AIM), replacing them with home quarantines.

“How will the game’s concessionaires attract tourists, from abroad, with this multiplicity of disjointed and disproportionate, and an unacceptable lack of coordination?” How will Macau’s gaming industry be able to compete with professionalism from the authorities of Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, or Singapore?”

Previously when inquired about this matter Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre Coordinator Dr. Leong Iek Hou responded that authorities “gave great importance” to reducing the waiting period for arrivals with “negotiations ongoing with different services” on how to speed up procedures.