Macau Might Test the Entire City for COVID-19 as Outbreaks in China Appear

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Macau had started down a path of recovery following the COVID-19 debacle and seemed to be ready to beat expectations. However, there have been pockets of outbreaks of the coronavirus in mainland China that are now threatening that recovery. Now, in order to prevent the city from falling victim once again to a major shutdown, health officials are beginning to consider testing the entire city to keep any COVID-19 spikes from occurring.

Mass COVID-19 Testing In Macau

Macau Health Bureau Director Lo Iek Long has stated that the city’s government is currently reviewing whether mass testing is necessary and feasible. There has been a considerable uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases in the mainland China province of Guangdong, which is an important feeder for the city. While travel restrictions between Macau and the province had previously been eased, it is now necessary to show a negative test taken within 48 hours prior to a visit to Macau. In addition, anyone who has visited the cities of Guangzhou and Foshan in Guangdong within two weeks prior to a Macau trip must quarantine in a hotel for 14 days.

The good news, according to the health bureau, is that the city’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre tested 5,000 individuals yesterday and all of the tests came back negative. Still, because Macau casinos suffered zero or near-zero revenue for several months last year, officials don’t want to take any chances. They might test the roughly 650,000 people that live in Macau and, while it would be a massive undertaking, Lo asserts that the testing can be completed within four days.

New COVID-19 Cases To Hinder Macau Recovery

Even if the new outbreaks in mainland China are isolated, they are already causing trouble for Macau. Casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) had started to rebound over the past couple of months as the gaming industry began to return to normal, but that changed at the end of May. The new spikes have already begun to keep some visitors away from Macau, with additional declines possible.

As a result of the declines, GGR is already falling. Analysts with the Sanford C. Bernstein brokerage firm pointed out this week that the average daily revenue across the first week of June was $28.2 million, a 26% drop from what was seen just a week earlier and 33% lower than the figure for the entire month of May. This is going to hurt Macau more and “may lead to further decline” in the number of arrivals, according to analysts. Because of the latest problems, they add that June’s GGR is likely to be 70% of what it was in June 2019 and 30% lower than last month. However, the second half of the year could bring some improvement, two years after COVID-19 came in and decimated Macau’s gaming scene. 

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