Macau bans international passenger flights for two weeks

Macau health officials identified three imported Covid-19 cases on Jan 5, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (AFP) - Macau has announced a two-week ban on any inbound passenger flights from outside China after three coronavirus cases were found in passengers arriving from overseas.

The move came the same day Hong Kong banned flights from eight nations and ramped up social distancing measures, leaving the two neighbouring Chinese territories even more cut off from the rest of the world.

Like mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau have maintained some of the world's harshest measures throughout the pandemic - including virtually closed borders, weeks-long quarantines, targeted lockdowns and mass testing.

Macau's Health Bureau announced on Wednesday (Jan 5) that it will prohibit "civil aircraft from carrying passengers from places outside China to Macau" for two weeks starting on Sunday.

Macau bars non-residents from entering the city, while residents returning from outside China have to quarantine for at least 21 days, similar to Hong Kong.

Health officials on Wednesday identified three imported asymptomatic cases in Macau, related to travellers from Britain and the Philippines.

The gambling hub has recorded only 79 confirmed coronavirus cases - using the mainland's tallying method that excludes asymptomatic patients - and no deaths.

In August, Macau ordered compulsory coronavirus testing for all 680,000 residents after a family of four was found to be carrying the Delta variant, breaking the city's 16-month streak of being virus-free.

Macau has also adopted mainland China's health app, which rates infection risk, tracks movement and generates test and vaccination records.

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