Macao cordon off residential buildings as virus cases rise

Macao cordon off residential buildings as virus cases rise

The authorities in Macao have cordoned off several residential buildings as the world's biggest gambling hub tries to contain a rising number of COVID 19 cases.

The special administrative region reported 39 new infections on Friday, bringing the total for its current outbreak to 149, with around a dozen buildings locked down and residents banned from leaving, the local government said in a statement. More than 5,000 people are in quarantine, the government said.

Macao is testing its more than 600,000 residents for the coronaviruses for the second time this week. The testing will be completed on Friday.

The city extended its COVID 19 restrictions on bars, cinemas, hair salons, and outdoor parks from Thursday. Casinos are allowed to remain open.

A makeshift hospital, next to Macao's Las Vegas modelled Cotai Strip, is expected to open on Friday.

Macau shut down most of its city, including bars, cinemas, hair salons and outdoor parks on Thursday. Only takeaway is allowed from dining facilities.

The stringent measures come after Macao has been largely COVID-free since an outbreak in October 2021. It has not previously had to deal with the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.

Macao adheres to the zero COVID policy, which aims to eradicate all outbreaks to ensure the safety of its residents.

Macao's cases are still not much better than daily infections in other places, including Hong Kong, where cases have jumped to over 1,000 a day this month.